Pelham Bay Park

The Daily Plant : Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Historic House: Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum

Photo by Richard Warren

This is the first in a series of articles on NYC Parks Historic Houses. There are 23 historic houses/landmarks located throughout the city and Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum is just one of the many you can visit. To find out about other historic houses and landmarks you can visit go to

It was 1654 when Thomas Pell, an English doctor from Connecticut purchased nearly 50,000 acres of land from the Lenape, the Native Americans who originally resided in the North Bronx and the Southern Westchester County area. Underneath an oak tree which died just a little over a hundred years ago, Thomas Pell signed a land agreement with Chief Wampage and the Native Americans. Much of the land that was purchased encompasses present day Bronx and Westchester. During the eighteenth century, the estate was reduced.

In 1836, Robert and Maria Bartow purchased the 233 acres of land that had previously belonged to Mr. Bartow’s grandfather. The mansion was built between 1836 and 1842 in the Greek Revival style with elegant interior ornamentation in the double parlors.

In 1883 a commission was appointed to acquire land for Bronx parks. Along with what would become Bronx Park and Van Cortlandt Park, the Pelham area was selected as well. Legislation passed by New York State required the land owners to sell it to the City which was forming new parkland in the Bronx. This included the Bartows, who along with ten other property owners, sold their land to the City for the creation of what is today the largest NYC Park at 2,765 acres, Pelham Bay Park.

Today, visitors can explore the mansion, carriage house, formal garden and landscape of what is now the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum which offers visitors a source of serenity in an urban environment. The Bartow-Pell Mansion officially opened as a museum in 1946.

Whether you are winding your way up the stunning three-story spiral staircase, visiting the carriage house or walking through the exquisite sunken garden, a visit to Bartow-Pell will make the past come alive in spectacular ways.

The winter season is full of events at Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum. From classical music, illustrated talks, historical hikes, to traveling back in time in period costume, Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum is not only full of history, education and culture but also nostalgia for a time gone-by.

Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum has programs ranging from tours to exhibitions, lectures, concerts, hikes, nature programs and family events. The museum’s upcoming exhibition will be on schoolgirl artwork from female academies in the early nineteenth century and on view March 1 through June 21, 2015.

The Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum is located in Pelham Bay Park at 895 Shore Road, Bronx 10464 and is open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. Cost: $5 for adults, $3 for students and seniors. Free for children under age six.The garden and grounds are open daily 8:30 a.m. to dusk, free. Mansion and Carriage House tours begin at quarter after the hour starting at 12:15 p.m.

Winter Chamber Music Series

Saturday, February 14, 7:00 p.m.
The Musicians of the Crimson Menagerie, an ensemble specializing in 19th-century salon music, present an evening of romantic pieces by Mozart, Haydn, Boccherini, and Beethoven in honor of St. Valentine’s Day.

Sunday, March 15, 4:30 p.m.
To celebrate Women’s History Month, the series concludes with Siren Baroque, an all-female ensemble performing works by all-female 17th-century composers.

Cost per concert: $20. Tickets may be purchased in advance online at or at the door. If purchasing at the door, registration requested by 718-885-1461.

Local Author Spotlight

Thursday, February 26, 7:30 p.m.

Emita Brady Hill and Janet Butler Munch, editors of Bronx Faces and Voices: Sixteen Stories of Courage and Community, discuss the men and women who tell their personal, uncensored stories of life in the Bronx before, during, and after the troubled years of arson, crime, abandonment, and flight in the 1970s and 80s. The voices are as eclectic as the borough itself, but all were determined to preserve their communities and combat the notion of the Bronx as an international symbol of urban disaster.

March Lecture Series: Locally Grown: Mansions, Movies, and Mausoleums

Blake Bell, “Bartow Neighbors: 19th-Century Estates and Mansions of Pelham Bay”

Thursday, March 5, 7:30 p.m.

In the 19th century, the Pelham Bay area was an idyllic, rural, and bucolic region that attracted financiers, artists, wealthy merchants, and others who sought an escape from the growing metropolis nearby. Town of Pelham Historian Blake Bell gives an entertaining presentation on some of the country estates and mansions that these neighbors of the Bartows built or enhanced, detailing stories of their rise and demise using rare images and maps.

Barbara Burn Dolensek, “Hollywood East, or Making Movies on City Island”

Thursday, March 12, 7:30 p.m.

Did you know that the first feature-length film for which a full copy still exists was made on City Island and in New Rochelle? Or that D. W. Griffith’s movie studio shed in Mamaroneck ended up at a shipyard on City Island? Or that Angelina Jolie’s first starring role was in a City Island movie? These and other fascinating bits of movie-making lore will be revealed in a lively talk on by Barbara Burn Dolensek, City Island historian.

Susan Olsen, “The Magnificent Marble Mansions of the Bronx”

Thursday, March 19, 7:30 p.m.

During the Gilded Age, many of the builders of the “country estates” in the newly established borough commissioned permanent homes in the Woodlawn Cemetery. Designated a National Historic Landmark with the “Largest and Finest Collection of Funeral Art in the Nation,” Woodlawn Cemetery is an extraordinary repository of Bronx history and art. Susan Olsen, Woodlawn Cemetery historian, explores works by well known architects, stained glass by Tiffany and La Farge, and vaulted ceilings by Guastavino.

For the March Lecture Series registration is requested. Cost per lecture: $10 adults; $8 seniors & students; members free.

-Submitted by Sabirah Abdus-Sabur, Conservation Corps Fellow with the Press Office.


"Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy."

Anne Frank


Directions to Pelham Bay Park

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