The Historic Home at 403 Pelhamdale
In the spring of 2014, an application was made to demolish the home at 403 Pelhamdale Avenue
at the intersection of Pelhamdale, Colonial and Iden Avenues in order to build three new homes on this site. The matter
was taken up at the Village of Pelham Manor Planning Board on Wednesday, April 9 at Pelham Manor Village Hall. Pelham
Preservation Society encouraged citizens to attend to understand the potential impacts of this proposal and made public comment
about the historic significance of this building.
Following this meeting, through the efforts of the Pelham Preservation Society, a buyer was found for the house who
purchased the property to rennovate and preserve it as a single-family home and who committed to executing a deed restriction
that would prevent any future subdivision.
About the house at 403 Pelhamdale Avenue:
From an Article in the Pelham Weekly, April 3, 2014 by Arthur Scinta:
The Indomitable Couple of 403
the second time in three years, William and Olivia Roos found themselves adrift in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Having set sail from Newport on July 4, 1931 in a cross-Atlantic race to Plymouth, England, the Lismore, a
German-built, 71-foot ketch, was the largest yacht in the race when it encountered a heavy squall that pounded the vessel
until it carried away the main topmast. They were a long way from Westchester County and not nearly as
comfortable as they might have been in their cozy house at 403 Pelhamdale Avenue at the corner of Pelhamdale and Colonial
Avenue in Pelham Manor. While the disabled ketch attempted to proceed under a jury jig, two crew members
were on the verge of mutiny. They might also have been on the verge of being thrown overboard by the ship's
feisty first mate, Olivia (known as "Olva"), had it not been for a passing steamship that agreed to take them on
board about 100 miles out from Plymouth.
This was not the first time the Rooses had been lost at sea. And it was not anywhere near as dire
a circumstance as in 1928 when their 50-foot schooner the Rofa with an extremely unconventional rigging ended up
at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. William had replaced the schooner's three sails with six, three on
pivoting booms with three jib sails attached to the ends. Untested when she set sail in the Queen Victoria
Race from New York to Santander, Spain, the schooner was demasted. The Rooses would have been lost at sea
had they not been rescued 800 miles east of New York by the steamer, the Tuscorora. With a tow
line connected to the Rofa, it took some persuading to get Olva to leave her boat and take more comfortable quarters
on the steamship. It was a good thing she did. At 2:30 am the next morning, the line
broke and the Rofa was never seen again.
After the Lismore spent three years in repair, the Rooses again set sail in a year-long, 8000-mile journey
from Germany to England to Portugal, then back across the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean, Miami and finally
back up to New York -- with Olva serving as a full member of the crew. In 1937, when William Roos was detained
by business from sailing to the Bahamas, Olva sailed the yacht herself as captain, joined by several friends and a few professional
Olivia Slade Roos had not been raised under circumstances that would seem to give rise to such a formidable woman.
She was the granddaughter of Robert Hoe, one of the first manufacturers of the color printing press and part of a multi-generational
family firm that created the first cylindrical "lightening presses." At the time of his death
in 1909, Hoe was one of the wealthiest men in America, leaving an estate estimated at $10 million. (By
comparison, F.W. Woolworth was worth $6.5 million at his death in 1919.) Olva grew up in Manhattan, attending
all the important debutante parties before marrying William Roos in 1918. The couple had no children.
At her death in 1983 at the age of 88, Olva Roos was considered the first woman to have crossed the Atlantic serving
as part of a crew.
William and Olva Roos settled in Pelham in 1920, purchasing a house built around 1870 on a large estate that extended
from Colonial Avenue, south along Pelhamdale Avenue to about two-thirds of the way to the Boston Post Road. A
similar size estate ran in parallel along Wolfs Lane (occupied by the large house also still standing near the corner of Iden
Avenue and Wolfs Lane). By the time the Rooses purchased the home, Iden and Reed Avenues had been put through
leaving intact their house as one of the oldest homes in Pelham Manor. While William and Olva Roos eventually
moved to a large estate in Mamaroneck, they retained their Pelham home, leasing it out until Olva sold it to the most recent
owner in 1948. The Roos home still stands at 403 Pelhamdale Avenue, a late Carpenter Gothic/Stick Style
home, some of its detail missing, but retaining its original portico with highly articulated structural components.
Traces of its original circular driveway can still be seen at the curb on Pelhamdale Avenue.
Mrs. William Roos at the helm of the schooner yacht
ROFA, Ocean Race to Spain, July 7, 1928 ~ copyright Mystic
Seaport, Rosenfeld Collection #28983F