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Guide to the Records of Chapel Farm
1911-2008 (bulk 2000-2003)
 MS 108

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Processed by Tiffany Schureman.

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on May 21, 2018
English

Descriptive Summary

 
Title: Chapel Farm Records
Dates: 1911-2008 (bulk 2000-2003)
Abstract: Chapel Farm is located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. The area is a dense forest. This collection mostly contains the records of the efforts to save it from real estate developers from 1991-2003. The types of materials included in this collection are correspondence, maps, reports, appraisals, clippings, books, and legal documents.
Quantity: 1.29 Linear feet (3 boxes)
Call Phrase: MS 108

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Historical Note

Chapel Farm is located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, New York. The area is not actually a farm, but a forest. The property was originally a religious retreat built by the Griscom family, the founders of the Theosophical Society. Ludlow Griscom was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Audubon Society for many years. In 1969 Chapel Farm was bought by Manhattan College to build dormitories, but used it as an environmental research station. Due to declining enrollment, Manhattan College started seeking a buyer. Over the next three decades many development plans were put forth, but never went through. One deal did proceed and the College sold five acres at the northern end of Chapel Farm to SGD Corporation. This sale included the lease of the "mansion", which is a house built by the Griscom family, for 99 years and a 99 year renewal. The current owner of Chapel Farm is Villanova Estates, a corporation owned by John Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald planned to build thirteen home sites in the Chapel Farm area. Local residents and politicians opposed the development of Chapel Farm including access/roads, blasting, drainage, tree removal, and erosion control. Fitzgerald eventually started building the homes in 2005.

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Scope and Content Note

The records of Chapel Farm mainly consist of records to fight the development of the area by John Fitzgerald. There are limited records of previous fights against development. The issues covered in these papers include tree removal, erosion control, access/roads, blasting, and construction progress. The types of materials included in this collection are correspondence, maps, survey maps, environmental information, reports, statements of individuals and community groups, and legal information. Also included are two books, one about New York birds written by Ludlow Griscom and another about Ludlow Griscom. There is a gap in information from 1927 to 1955; the materials from 1911 to 1927 are maps and one book.

Materials added to the collection in 2008 are predominantly from Hilary Kitasei and Barbara Michael, and many are annotated in pencil in Ms. Michael's hand.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged into four series. Within each series the materials are arranged chronologically.

  1. Series I: Chapel Farm Real Estate Development
  2. Series II: John Fitzgerald/ Chapel Farm Estates, Inc./ Villanova Estates
  3. Series III: Opposition to Development
  4. Series IV: Environmental Information Not About Chapel Farm

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Fitzgerald, John
  • Griscom, Ludlow, 1890-1959
  • Kitasei, Hilary

Document Type

  • Agendas
  • Brochures.
  • Calendars
  • Clippings
  • Correspondence
  • Fliers (printed matter)
  • Leases
  • Maps
  • Newsletters
  • Pamphlets
  • Photographs
  • Reports

Subject Organizations

  • Community Board No. 8 (Bronx, New York, N.Y.).
  • Fieldston Property Owners Association
  • Fieldston Road Homeowners
  • New York Audubon Society.
  • Riverdale Nature Preservancy
  • Trust for Public Land (U.S.)

Subject Topics

  • City planning -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Forests and forestry -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Greenbelts -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Land use -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Real estate development -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • Bronx (New York, N.Y.) -- History -- 20th century
  • Chapel Farm (Bronx, New York, N.Y.)
  • Riverdale (New York, NY)

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.)

Use Restrictions

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permission requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote, to

Manuscripts Curator
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as Chapel Farm Records, The New-York Historical Society.

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Container List

Series I: Chapel Farm Real Estate Development, 1911-2005

Scope and Contents note

This series contains material relating to the history of Chapel Farm and the real estate development projects that have been attempted over the years. Most pertain to the battle with John Fitzgerald. The types of materials included are correspondence, pamphlets, notes, legal information, reports, clippings, maps, and survey maps.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 History
1955, 1959, 1998, 2002, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Background information on environment of Chapel Farm
[2002], undated
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Legal Documents: sale of lot, Land Trust, Environmental Control Board, and others
1959, 1990, 2001-2002, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 4 CEQR Environmental Assessment Statement
2000
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Lists of donors, potential donors, residents
Undated
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Maps of Chapel Farm and surrounding area
1911, 1927, 2000-2001, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Survey maps of Chapel Farm
1999
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Lot maps, property and construction photos (2008 donation)
2004-2008
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Correspondence to and from Riverdale residents regarding Chapel Farm
1977-2005
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Newspaper clippings
1969-2005, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Newspaper clippings (2008 donation)
1997, 2001-2007
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Notes
Undated

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Series II: John Fitzgerald/ Chapel Farm Estates, Inc./ Villanova Estates, 1984-2003

Scope and Contents note

This series contains materials from and to John Fitzgerald and his associates. The types of materials included are correspondence, leases, statements of findings, reports, maps, and plans.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1984-2003, undated
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Legal and planning materials
1986-2001, undated

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Series III: Opposition to Development, 1984-2002

Scope and Contents note

The materials included in this series are organized into two subseries: community (Subseries 1) and city and state organizations (Subseries 2) opposed to the development of Chapel Farm. The types of materials included are correspondence, reports, newsletters, statements, agendas, statements of opposition, calendars, publications, conservation plans, and a map.

Subseries 1: Community Organizations

Scope and Contents note

The materials included in the subseries are from community organizations opposed to the real estate development of Chapel Farm. The types of materials included are correspondence, reports, newsletters, statements, and a map.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Fieldston Property Owners Association
1984-2001, undated
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Fieldston Property Owners Association
2001, 2003
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Fieldston Road Homeowners
2000-2001, undated
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Riverdale Nature Preservancy
1991-2002, undated
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Riverdale Nature Preservancy, Chapel Farm Task Force
2001-2003
Box: 2 Folder : 9 Community Board No. 2
1985-2001
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Trust for Public Land
2003
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Environmental organizations
1995-2001
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Environmental organizations
2001-2002, undated
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Riverdale Community Association, Wave Hill, Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, Inc.
2001

Subseries 2: New York City and New York State Organizations

Scope and Contents note

The materials included in the subseries are from state and city organizations, most of which were opposed to developing Chapel Farm into real estate. The materials include correspondence, agendas, statements of opposition, calendars, publications, lists, and conservation plans.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Bronx Borough President
2001, 2003
Box: 3 Folder : 5 New York City Planning Commission
2001
Box: 3 Folder : 6 Parks Council
1983-2002, Undated
Box: 3 Folder : 7 New York City Council
2001
Box: 3 Folder : 8 New York State information
2001-2002, Undated

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Series IV: Environmental Material Not About Chapel Farm, 1923-2001

Scope and Contents note

This series includes environmental information pertaining not to Chapel Farm but to areas that are similar. Also included are two books, one about Ludlow Griscom and one written by him. The types of materials included are diagrams, birding information, flyers, brochures, photos, and plans.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 9 Environmental information on trees, rain, and birds
Undated
Box: 3 Folder : 10 Fliers, pamphlets, and plans of other parks and preserves
1992, 1997, 2001, Undated
Box: 3 Folder : 11 Books: Dean of the Bird Watchers: A Biography of Ludlow Griscom,  Birds of the New York City Region
1923, 1994
Box: 3 Folder : 12 Photos of ropes course
Undated

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