One of New York's most beautiful historic homes has stayed that way as a result of being one of the most inaccessible. About as far from Grand Central as you can get before hitting Westchester, the Bartow-Pell Mansion sits regally in the middle of Pelham Bay Park, as it has since Robert Bartow added the stunning new Greek Revival expansion to the existing manor house in 1836. The mansion has been owned by the city since 1888 when the surrounding Pelham Bay was incorporated into a public park. Part of any visit to NYC's largest park should include at least a brief visit to the manor at its heart.
Beneath the shade of a large white oak, which has ever since been called by his name, the deed was signed by the Indian Chiefs Manninepol, Annhook, and five other Sachems [sic] from whom he purchased the land for 'two guns, two kettles, two coats, two adzes, 2 shirts, one barrel of cider and 6 bits of money'
What You Will See
The doors of the Mansion and the associated carriage house are open to visitors on Wednesdays and weekends, with a small admission fee and during a variety of free and ticketed events throughout the year, including book clubs, concerts, tours, and lectures. The manicured gardens and surrounding landscape, which rival the mansion itself in beauty, are free to visit and open daily until dusk. The gardens change with the seasons and host a variety of statues and public artworks. Rotating exhibitions fill either the Carriage House or mansion, ranging from period canvases to modern photography.
Why You Should Go
The Mansion is in such an extreme corner of the city that directions by public transportation require the Westchester Bee-Line (which do accept MetroCards). The long journey by car, bike, train or bus, is richly rewarded with an intimate look at one of the country's best examples of mid-19th-century country estates, a designated National Historic Landmark. The mansion is filled with period furniture, including a desk owned by Aaron Burr, and friendly, knowledgeable guides are happy to answer questions and share stories. It is far, and only open on select days and hours, but makes for a memorable destination.