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FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF THROGGS NECK

3051 East Tremont Avenue
ca. 1880

This prominently-sited brick church, designed in the High Victorian Gothic style, boasts a distinct steeple that can be seen from blocks away. Notably, Crow Hill, on which the church sits, was the site to which General William Howe and his troops retreated after being repulsed by American forces as they attempted to cross Westchester Creek. The use of polychromatic materials, such as the contrasting white stone trim and red brick, as well as the incorporation of banded arches into the facade, is emblematic of High Victorian Gothic architecture. The First Presbyterian Church of Throggs Neck was organized in the 1850’s, and during the Civil War, church parishioners offered bowls of soup to soldiers passing through Throggs Neck via train so that they would not be tempted to visit nearby taverns. The congregation’s first structure burned down in 1870, and the date of current church is unknown, although some estimates date it to around 1880.

HERBERT LEHMAN HIGH SCHOOL

3000 East Tremont Avenue
1972
Eggers and Higgins

Straddling the Hutchinson River Parkway, this large public high school was designed by the firm of Eggers & Higgins as a creative response to a lack of adequate land and site constraints. The main academic building, rectangular in plan, is linked to the circular 1,000-seat auditorium by a three-story classroom wing that occupies the air rights above the parkway. The school is situated at the head of the once bustling Westchester Creek, which still sees some traffic in the form of houseboats and oil barges. Designed for a student body of 1,700, Lehman High was initially plagued by racial tension as the school’s population included students from white, black, and Puerto Rican neighborhoods. The school is aptly named after Herbert Lehman (1878-1963), who served as both a United States Senator and Governor of New York and was a tireless advocate for social programs and civil rights. Eggers & Higgins, a long-lasting firm comprised of partners Otto Eggers and Daniel Higgins, was involved in a variety of designs ranging from New York University’s redevelopment of the Washington Square Park area to Lincoln Center’s Guggenheim Bandshell.

DOCK STREET HISTORICAL MARKER

2900 East Tremont Avenue

This marker notes the spot of a small, but important battle of the New York campaign of the Revolutionary War that occurred on October 12, 1776. After taking control of Lower Manhattan but failing to dislodge General George Washington and his troops from Harlem, British General William Howe (brother of British Admiral Richard Howe) sought to flank the Americans by landing at Throgs Neck, which was virtually an island, and utilizing a bridge over the Westchester Creek. Near the point at which East Tremont Avenue currently spans the now-submerged creek, a group of Americans repelled Howe’s advance over the bridge, providing time for Washington to begin his retreat from Upper Manhattan towards White Plains. The northern reaches of the Westchester Creek were buried over time so that the stream now emerges south of the Lehman High School football field. Starting in the Dutch period, Dock Street, which now serves as a driveway for businesses on Ferris Place, was the point of disembarkation for ships approaching the village via Westchester Creek. Although the creek sees much less maritime traffic than in years past, a marina, constructed in 1957, provides recreational boaters with slips amidst the otherwise industrial environs of the canal.

FERRIS FAMILY BURIAL PLOT

Commerce Avenue
In use: 1700s – 1914

John Ferris, one of the five original recipients of the 1667 patent for the Township of Westchester, included provisions for a family burial ground in his 1717 will. The Ferris family used and maintained the cemetery for almost another two centuries until Charles Ferris passed away in 1908, leaving two vaults and around thirty gravestones to decay in an increasingly industrial setting. In 1928, the Benjamin Ferris family vault was vandalized and desecrated, prompting reinterment of almost half the bodies to Kenisco Cemetery. Through the ensuing decades, the cemetery has seen both periodic neglect and restoration, including the installation of a new fence in the early 2000’s. Notable members of the Ferris family include James Ferris, who survived a stay on a British prison ship during the Revolutionary War and his wife, Charity Ferris, who purportedly housed British Admiral Richard Howe and transmitted strategically significant conversations to General George Washington. Whereas much of the Westchester Square was once farmlands of the Ferris family, nearby Ferris Place is the only surviving reminder in The Bronx of one of the borough’s earliest settlers.

VAN SHAICK FREE READING ROOM / HUNTINGTON FREE LIBRARY & READING ROOM

9 Westchester Square
1882-83, Frederick Clarke Withers; Addition, 1890-92, William Anderson

One of the earliest institutions on Westchester Square and the first library in this portion of The Bronx, the Van Shaick Free Reading Room / Huntington Free Library and Reading Room was designed by Frederick Clarke Withers and completed in 1883. Born and educated in England, Withers became known for his Victorian Gothic designs, epitomized by his 1874 Jefferson Market Courthouse. Commissioned by the executors of the estate of tobacco merchant Peter C. Van Shaick, who left $15,000 for the construction of free a reading room for Westchester, the building sat vacant after the town government refused to take on the property and its burdensome maintenance. In 1890, Cornelius Huntington, a railroad magnate with a summer home nearby, purchased the building, expanded it, and endowed it with funds to cover its operating expenses. The building is entered through an arched doorway set within a one- bay tower, which features a terra cotta plaque and rondels that commemorate Cornelius Huntington’s donation in 1890. A rear addition, completed in 1892, is sensitive to the original materials of the structure and features an ornate chimney with terracotta tiling. The Huntington Free Library is a NYC Individual Landmark.

APPLE BANK FOR SAVINGS (FORMER BRONX SAVINGS BANK)

12 Westchester Square
1942
Cross & Cross

This two-story bank building, once a branch of The Bronx Savings Bank, embodies a restrained classicism with modern influences. The bank’s entryway features Art Deco detailing, such as stylized columns set within a streamlined entryway and an abstract clock with geometric shapes taking the place of numbers. Designed by Cross & Cross and completed in 1942, this building is actually a reconstruction of an existing structure with an extension added to its southern end. While the bank’s new exterior may have lacked the historical references of the original Federal Revival style building, an engraved tablet depicting Jonas Bronck signing a treaty with the Native Americans that ceded control of the land now comprising The Bronx sits on the north wall of the interior. The Bronx Savings Bank was a local institution from 1905 to 1974, with branches throughout The Bronx and Westchester County, including another extant structure with a historical mural in Parkchester. Both trained in the Beaux Arts tradition, John and Elliot Cross founded Cross & Cross in 1907 and went on to design a diverse array of buildings in the city, ranging from elegant townhouses to the RCA Victor building.

APPLE BANK FOR SAVINGS (FORMER BRONX SAVINGS BANK)

12 Westchester Square
1942
Cross & Cross

This two-story bank building, once a branch of The Bronx Savings Bank, embodies a restrained classicism with modern influences. The bank’s entryway features Art Deco detailing, such as stylized columns set within a streamlined entryway and an abstract clock with geometric shapes taking the place of numbers. Designed by Cross & Cross and completed in 1942, this building is actually a reconstruction of an existing structure with an extension added to its southern end. While the bank’s new exterior may have lacked the historical references of the original Federal Revival style building, an engraved tablet depicting Jonas Bronck signing a treaty with the Native Americans that ceded control of the land now comprising The Bronx sits on the north wall of the interior. The Bronx Savings Bank was a local institution from 1905 to 1974, with branches throughout The Bronx and Westchester County, including another extant structure with a historical mural in Parkchester. Both trained in the Beaux Arts tradition, John and Elliot Cross founded Cross & Cross in 1907 and went on to design a diverse array of buildings in the city, ranging from elegant townhouses to the RCA Victor building.

P.S. X012 LEWIS AND CLARKE SCHOOL

2555 Tratman Avenue
1966; 1910 Annex

Although its current home was constructed in 1966, Public School 12’s history stretches back to include at least three buildings in the vicinity of Westchester Square. The first PS 12, replete with a spire-topped tower, was completed in 1886 and stood at the current site of the playground on Frisby Avenue. A later addition to the original structure, built around 1910, was designed in the Renaissance Revival style and still stands as an office annex connected to the four-story, yellow-brick modern style classroom building. Public School 12’s new building, opened in 1966, was the city’s first school building purpose built-for the specialized education of students with behavioral issues. This building can be divided into two components: the corner portion, which features minimal fenestration, blank brick walls, and the school entrance; and the classroom wing, with the upper three stories characterized by contrasting bands of windows and panels. Interestingly, one of PS 12’s most beloved and long-serving principals, Dr. John Condon, made headlines in 1932 as the designated intermediary between Charles Lindbergh and the kidnappers of his child.

HARVEST FIELDS COMMUNITY CHURCH (FORM. WYOMING MASONIC TEMPLE)

2626 East Tremont Avenue
ca. 1912

This five-bay, three-story building features a limestone front and pedimented entryway. The building was originally constructed as the Wyoming Masonic Temple to host the local Wyoming Lodge of the Free & Accepted Masons (“Freemasons”). Legend holds that, as a “Westchester Lodge” already existed, members selected the name “Wyoming” after randomly pulling a bank note issued by the Pennsylvania-based Bank of Wyoming. While the exact date of construction is unknown, the Wyoming Masonic Temple is referenced as a venue for Freemasons as early as 1912. Historic photographs demonstrate that while the Freemasons may have consistently occupied the upper floors of the building, the ground floor space was rented to a range of tenants over the years. With international roots that stretch back centuries, the Free & Accepted Masons is a fraternal organization that focuses on civic engagement, which is demonstrated by the variety of community events advertised at the Wyoming Temple over its long history. Of the seven masonic temples that originally served The Bronx, six remain standing but only the City Island Temple retains its original function, housing the Wyoming Lodge along with the three other lodges currently active in the borough.

“WHITE ELEPHANT” BUILDING

44 Westchester Square
ca. 1921

Known locally as “The White Elephant,” this three-story white brick structure stretches for the entire length of a prominent block. The monochrome brick is complemented by a striking variety of multicolored glazed terra cotta, including a band above the first floor retail fenestration and diamond patterning that covers the entirety of the facade above the building’s main entrance. Interestingly, the central archway, now occupied by a retail storefront, once opened inward to feature a round arched halfway lined with tilework. Although this structure never served as a theater, one may infer the building’s intended use from the terra-cotta detailing, which includes representations of theatrical masks and instruments. While never a theater, the White Elephant has hosted a variety of tenants over its long history, including cafes, realtors, and an office of The Bronx Gas & Electric Company.