Cliff AVenue Homes
This Edwardian-era home, built in 1914, was briefly the home of the McClellan Family before being purchased by American Express President George C. Taylor (1808-1923) about the time that he promoted to the position in 1915. Taylor was born in 1808 and joined the company as a wagon driver at age 17, working his way up through every position in the company. In 1918, he oversaw the merger of four express companies, American, Adams, Wells Fargo and Southern to become the “American Railway Express Company.
From 1946 to 1955, the Edwardian-era home built in 1914 was the home of Mr. & Mrs. William E. Robinson. William E. Robinson (1901-1968) Robinson was long associated with the New York Herald Tribune, serving successively as editor and executive vice president before becoming the publisher in 1953. In his earlier years with the newspaper, he was sent to France where General Dwight D. Eisenhower had imposed tight restrictions on reporting. Robinson scheduled a meeting with Eisenhower to seek more leniency. Ironically, the meeting was scheduled right at the start of a German counteroffensive that became the “Battle of the Bulge,” but Eisenhower took the meeting and Robinson was impressed with his cool head while, literally, under fire. The two became fast friends and, after the war, Robinson persuaded Ike first to author “Crusade in Europe” and then to run for president. Robinson became part of a group the press derided as “Ike’s Millionaires,” helping him to secure the Republican nomination and then winning the White House. An “Ike for President Club” was formed at 328 Cliff Avenue. Once elected as president, the group became Eisenhower’s “kitchen cabinet” as well as his golfing buddies, playing at Augusta (where Robinson was a member and sponsored Eisenhower in joining) as well as at Camp David (where Ike had a course built), Cherry Hills in Denver, Colorado, Palm Springs, California and later in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and Newport Country Club, Rhode Island. Eisenhower often stayed with the Robinsons at 328 Cliff Avenue. Neighbors from the time, like Betty Bucher, recall Eisenhower walking his Scottish Terrier along the Cliff Avenue sidewalks with the Secret Service in tow. Robinson went on to acquire an advertising firm called, Robinson-Hannagan Associated, and later served as Chairman of the Coca-Cola Company, succeeding another member of the Ike golfing gang, Robert Woodruff. He and Eisenhower both died of heart attacks within about two months of each other in 1969.
Long before Eisenhower was hosted by the Robinsons, presidential visits to this Pelham location actually began much earlier -- with George Washington. The site was the location of a home built in 1750 (destroyed in 1888) by descendants of Thomas Pell, the founder of Pelham and first “Lord of Pelham Manor.” The Pells at that time owned all of the present Town of Pelham. They had their choice of any location to build homes, yet chose this spot along what was then the Boston-Post Road (now Colonial Avenue) on one of the highest points in the area with expansive views at that time across Pelham to the Long Island Sound and all the way to Manhattan. (The original chimney stone with the date 1750 is installed in a memorial to Colonel Pell located next to the entrance of Pelham Memorial High School.) That home passed to Colonel Philip Pell III (1753-1811), who served as Deputy Judge Advocate General under General George Washington during the American War for Independence. Pell rode triumphantly with Washington into New York City the day the British evacuated the city at the end of the war. After the war, George Washington slept at that home on several occasions. Thirty-three presidents later, Dwight Eisenhower would return to the same spot in Pelham to sleep in the home that now occupies the site.
The home served as the United Nations Embassy for Barbados in the 1980s until 1995 when it was purchased by Nicole Browning, an executive with MTV.
Sources: "William E. Robinson Dies at 68," The New York Times, Sunday, June 8, 1869; Sowell, David, “All the President’s Men,” Links Magazine, September/October 2004; Beschloss, Michael, “The Gang That Always Liked Ike,” New York Times, November 15, 2014; Daily Argus, 1952; “Geo. C. Taylor Dies of Heart Attack,” The New York Times, December 19, 1923; Barr, Lockwood, A brief, but most complete & true Account of the Settlement of the Ancient Town of Pelham, Westchester County, State of New York Known one Time well & favourably as the Lordshipp & Mannour of Pelham, Dietz Press, 1946, pp. 119, 142-144
"328 Cliff Ave, formerly McClellan - site of Philip Pell house" Wm. Montgomery, glass slide photograph, 11/2/24 (Digitized 2016; re-touched 2021)
"328 Cliff Ave, The Taylor House - formerly McClellan - site of Old Pell House" Wm. Montgomery, glass slide photograph, 10/25/24 (Digitized 2016; re-touched 2021)