A National Landmark, the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum in the Bronx is a cultural haven hidden away from the bustle of the borough that offers plenty of fun festivals and activities for families throughout the year.
Tucked away in Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx rests the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, a historic structure that serves as a window into 19th-century life in the area, when many more grand country estates dotted the then-countryside. This New York City and National Landmark, built between 1836 and 1842 on land once inhabited by the Siwanoy Indians, belonged to the Bartow and Pell families during the 19th century and was later restored by the International Garden Club, eventually opening as a museum in 1946. The stone mansion with Greek Revival interiors and accompanying terraced garden allow visitors to escape the urban landscape and peek into the city’s past.
Visitors can start off their exploration with a 45-minute guided tour of the mansion with a docent (see photo at right) who will delve into the history of the mansion and 10 of its rooms, including the decorative art and furnishings. The mansion hosts periodic lecture series and rotating exhibits that feature significant periods of the site’s history. Visitors can also explore the formal terrace garden, the Pell cemetery, and the restored, period-furnished Carriage House, which offers a glimpse into country life in the mid-19th century. And, because the mansion grounds are part of Pelham Bay Park, the site is connected to hiking trails, featuring seasonal flora, that lead visitors out to the surrounding marshlands and waterways that the Bartow family used to travel to Manhattan.
The First Friday! Program, which takes place on almost every first Friday throughout the year, is a partnership between the mansion and the Bronx Seaside Trolley that allows visitors to explore the museum, enjoy live music and refreshments, and then board the free trolley to explore City Island.
The formal terraced garden behind the mansion was designed by prominent architects William Delano and Chester Aldrich in 1914.
During the first week of August, interested visitors can participate in the volunteer preservation workshop, where they will spend a week working on preservation projects throughout the mansion. The museum hosts a summer program for children called BPMM Adventures: Summer Sessions during the last week of June and second week of August; two weeklong programs are available for children ages 6-9 who are interested in doing crafts and activities related to the museum and history of the area. An annual Easter egg hunt is held in the spring, an 1864-style baseball game on Father’s Day weekend (see photo), regular crafting workshops, plus a winter holiday family day the first Saturday of December.
Address: 895 Shore Road, Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
Hours: Mansion open year-round, Wednesday and Saturday-Sunday, 12-4pm; Carriage House open April-October; gardens/grounds open 8:30am-dusk daily.
Admission: Mansion: $5; $3 students and seniors; free children younger than 6. Admission to the gardens/grounds is free.
For more information: 718-885-1461 or bpmm.org