In 1654 Connecticut physician Thomas Pell purchased land from the Siwanoy Indians, on which a manor house was constructed in 1675. This manor served several generations of Pells before burning during the Revolutionary War. Pell descendant Robert Bartow built his mansion on the same site in 1843.
The entryway of the main house features an imposing spiral staircase. The two main floors have been decorated with 1830-1860s furniture and decorative plaster accents the expansive, high-ceilinged double parlor. One second-floor bedroom features a crowned mahogany sleigh bed hung in tangerine shantung silk and tall windows opening onto wrought-iron balconies. The windows grant a view of the nearby conservatory, which shelters fruit trees and a statue of Venus.
The main house and grounds—which include formal terrace garden, fountain, herb and perennial gardens and stunning views of Long Island Sound—have been maintained by the International Garden Club since 1914. An adjacent 1840s carriage house serves as the exhibition center.
New York City bought the estate in 1888 as part of its parks program. The last of many mansions that once graced the Pelham Bay Park area, it was used by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia as a summer office in 1936. The architect is unknown.
Families step back in time when they visit this mansion by the water. Its annual three-day holiday celebration in December offers activities for children and a lively boutique.
The Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum's educational outreach is specifically geared toward 4th graders and consists of an in-school visit by a museum educator, a trip to the museum and follow-up activities.
In-school visit: The importance of historic houses to an understanding of history is discussed as a scale model of the mansion is constructed. Every child participates in building the house. Approximately one hour.
Museum visit: A class visit to Bartow-Pell begins with a short slide show on the history of the mansion as well as its architecture and the workmanship of skilled artisans and craftsmen. The children tour the mansion and 19th-century carriage house with a docent. Approximately 1 1/2 hours.
Follow-up: Teachers are given an activity packet for students, with work to be completed in class.
1 adult for every 10 students for a museum visit.
School Group Admission: Please call for rates and reservations.