Location: 895 Shore Road, Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
Inside the entrance to the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, an unusual freestanding staircase rises in a grand spiral. The two main floors have been decorated with Empire furniture, and decorative plaster illuminates the expansive, high-ceilinged double parlor. On the second floor, one bedroom
features a crowned mahogany sleigh bed hung in crimson silk, and floor-to- ceiling windows open onto black wrought-iron balconies. From here you can see the nearby conservatory, which shelters fruit trees and a statue of Venus.
The adjacent 1840s stone carriage house serves as an exhibition center for the Museum. The main house and grounds -- which include formal terraces, a fountain, and herb and perennial gardens that offer stunning views of Long Island Sound -- have been maintained by the International Garden Club since 1914.
In 1654 Connecticut physician Thomas Pell purchased land from the Siwanoy Indians upon which the mansion would eventually be built. A manor house was constructed in 1675 and served several generations of Pells before being burned during the Revolutionary War. Pell descendant Robert Bartow built his mansion here in 1842. 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, the house was used by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia as a summer office in 1936. The architect is unknown.