Patricia Baiardi Kantorski gave a detailed and informative talk and slide show on the history of Byram at Byram Shubert Library. Her talk was part of the Greenwich 375 series of neighborhood tours. According to Baiardi, over the years Byram has been referred to as Lyonsville, Meadsville, New Lebanon, Hawthorne in 1892 and East Port Chester in 1905. In 1947, the said the RTM voted to make Byram the official name of the neighborhood.
This map (1773) illustrates the first roads in Byram. The earliest records of roads in Byram date back to 1673 when New York Governor Lovelace ordered the post master to carry mail from New York City to Boston. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
One of three original farm homesteads in Byram was the Thomas Lyon house. “He built this colonial house in 1690 with a massive chimney, winding staircase, and scalloped shingles, and later built a lean-to in the back. This is the oldest unaltered house in Connecticut and was occupied by the Lyon family for seven generations until it was moved in 1927 when the Post Rd was widened,” Baiardi Kantorski said. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
The Mead homestead was built in 1820 by Jonas Mead on what was originally 142 acres. When he died in 1879, he willed the homestead and the inland portion of the property to his son Milo and the shore property to his son Mark. Mark quickly divided up the property and sold it to wealthy businessmen for their summer estates along Byram Shore Rd. Milo, however, eventually developed his property but not the same way… He is responsible for the way Byram looks today,” Baiardi Kantorski said. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
Byram Park was once a quarry run by the Ritch brothers. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
Now home to the Byram Shore Boat Club, this building was once used by the owners of the quarry to store dynamite. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
In his obituary they called Milo Mead the sage of Byram. When he died in 1906 the newspaper said he was near being a demi-god. “People thought of him with respect and affection,” Baiardi Kantorski said.
Baiardi Kantorski said the first quarries in Byram were opened in 1840 by William and Thomas Ritch, where Byram park is now. Their quarry stayed in business until 1904. The town acquired the property in 1918 for a public park and boat club for $50,000. The town converted the building used to store dynamite into the boat club.
At the zenith of the Byram quarry business in Byram, in 1880, there were seven separate quarries along Byram Shore Rd.
Granite from the “Byram Bluestone Quarry” was used to build local churches including St. Mary’s Church, Second Congregational Church and great estates, and stepping stones and ornamental posts, but was mostly shipped on barges to New York city for foundations for office buildings, as well as state as well as the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883.
In 1900 the building industry shifted from stone to concrete and the quarries went out of business.
Richard Ogden was granted the rights to build a mill on the west bank of the Byram River in 1709. It was there that the local colonial farmers brought grain to be ground into meal and flour. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
In 1840, the Abendroth Bros Stove Foundry was established on the Byram River in Port Chester. It was one of the largest foundries on the East coast and at its height employed 700 people.
William Abendroth, an immigrant from Germany built this foundry where they manufactured iron stoves, boilers, fancy yard pieces and iron cooking pieces. There was a small portion of the plant on the Greenwich side of the Byram River that manufactured plumbing pipes and fittings. The foundry closed during the Depression with the invention of new methods of manufacturing steel and demand for modern projects.
Abendroth Bros Stove Foundry. The top right corner of the original foundry is now where Tarry Lodge and Market are located. There is also one building remaining at left in foreground by water. It is used for storage. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
Tarry Market is located in what was once part of the Abendroth Bros Stove Foundry, where stoves, and iron yard ornaments and cooking pieces were manufactured until 1900 when new methods of manufacturing steel and demand for modern projects..
Other industries on the river included the Mertz’s Sons Lumber Yard. You can still see this building today. It was built in 1872 in Port Chester and was moved to Byram in 1904. It made windows, door frames, fireplace mantles, gingerbread for exterior trim, stairs, and high-end millwork for estates. They also built homes and churches throughout the area. Their docks enabled barges to load and unload lumber and other building materials. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
Barges and schooners came up the Byram River and turned around here, adjacent to the current Costco parking lot in Port Chester.
Inside the railings near Costco is the inlet where barges and schooners once turned around after coming up the Byram River.
In 1901 the first trolly went over the Mill St bridge. It started in the Port Chester trolley barn (by the Rye train station) and went along the Post Road to Mill St, Delavan Ridge, Hamilton Ave, up Greenwich Ave and then along the Post Road, all the way to Stamford. It cost 5¢ to get to Mianus and another 5¢ to get to Stamford. The trollies were phased out in 1927 and replaced by buses. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
Looking toward Port Chester on Mill Street in Byram, once referred to as “East Port Chester.” Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
The Byram River was used to transport raw materials to the factories — such as iron ore to foundries — and manufactured goods the market along the east coast. Many foundries had their own barges.
This is a picture of a barge in the winter when the Byram River was frozen and they’re blowing the ice up so that the barges could come up the river. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
Baiardi-Kantorski said there is a massive rock outcropping in Byram that explains why Delavan Ave swings wide after going straight from Port Chester and over the Byram River. She said the rock outcropping even runs through her yard on Church Street West.
Rock outcropping between New Lebanon School and the Byram Shubert Library.
Work, transportation and land all contributed to the development of Byram. When the railroad arrived, farmers were interested in developing their land. The homesteads of Byram were divided, subdivided and re-subdivided. To their credit, the developers wrote in their leases that they didn’t want Byram to become a shantytown, “with glue factories and other disagreeable land uses.”
Specifically, they prohibited slaughter houses, bone boiling establishment or other nuisances shall be erected or otherwise allowed on the premise. The farmers sold portions of their land through the 19th and 20th century and parcels were typically divided into 50×100 ft lots. “This was the vision of Milo Mead,” Baiairdi-Kantorski said. “Milo’s vision was for the working class people. When he sold a portion of his land, that was his stipulation to the developer.”
You’ll notice several styles of houses on the same streets in Byram, including Queen Ann, Shore Colonial.
Spanish eclectic style home in Byram. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
Craftsman style home in Byram. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
Queen Anne style home in Byram. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
Shore Colonial home in Byram. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
Baiardi-Kantorski said that because of abundant cheap labor in the form of waves of immigrants, Byram was developed into the community we have now. Byram was settled by the English in late 1600s, then just before the Civil war, with the advent of the American Industrial Revolution, the Germans began to immigrate to Byram, followed the Slavs, Czechs and Danes in 1890s, who came to work in factories, mills and foundries in Byram and Port Chester. By the 1920s, 90% of the Byram population was of foreign descent.
German immigrants in Byram. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
The Germans brought their customs with them to Byram, and possibly the most fun were the dance halls including this one at the end of William St and South Water. This building still exists. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
Opening day in 1906 of the Eid Svold Society Danish Independent Club and Socieities of New Lebanon on the corner of Delavan Ave and New Lebanon Avenue. Today this is the home of the Byram Veterans. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
The original New Lebanon School was built in 1856 for 94 children. It faced Mead Avenue and was located where the William Street parking lot is now. The school was converted to residences in 1893 and demolished in 1940 to build a parking lot. Milo Mead gave the land to the town for a new school on the grounds that the school be called New Lebanon School. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
At the original New Lebanon School on Mead Avenue, children, some holding harmonicas were part of the school’s band. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.
Although Byram never had its own post office building, there was a small branch post office in the back of George’s stationery store until 2000. Originally the mail had been routed through Port Chester but in the 1970s everyone was given a Greenwich, CT address.
In Byram there was a small branch post office in the back of George’s stationery store until 2000. Credit: Patricia Baiardi-Kantorski slide show image.