Ask Westchester, April 2012: War Memorial in Elmsford, Westchester's G-Men

Hidden memorials, misplaced buildings, and Westchester’s G-men

Q: What’s going on in Rye? Everywhere you turn, it seems, you happen upon a proud University of Georgia alum. You see bumper stickers with the school’s logo on virtually every other car. The school’s flag is around town, too. Can there really be so many proud U of Georgia alumni in Rye?
—Michael Martin, Rye

A: No, there can’t. We couldn’t tell if this was a trick question, Michael, with April Fools’ Day this month and all. And you nearly had us calling UGA for an explanation as to what you are seeing all about town. But then we realized that’s not the University of Georgia’s logo—it’s the Rye Garnets’ logo. And being ultra-curious, we wanted to know why the similarity.
Enter de facto Rye sports historian Stephen Feeney, editor of the Rye Football Journal. Feeney explains that, back in the day, high schools didn’t have team names; they just went by color. So Port Chester was called the “Blue and White,” Mamaroneck the “Orange and Black,” etc. But when Harrison High had a vote to pick a mascot a half century ago and became the Huskies, other schools followed suit…well, most other schools. Rye, whose colors were garnet and black—most likely due to the supply of indigenous garnet ore found under the school when digging the foundation—just became the Garnets.
But why the “G”? Well, Garnet does start with a “G.” And putting the seventh letter of the alphabet on your helmets in the block font Rye used was real trendy at the time. Indeed, the Garnet “G” was almost identical to the “G” used by the University of Georgia and…Grambling and…the Green Bay Packers. Who had it first? It’s a moderately interesting tale worth Googling if you have the time, but probably Grambling. So maybe to avoid any further confusion, the school should just change its name to the Copycats.

Rye High School’s team logo and the University of Georgia’s logo—can you tell the difference? Right, neither can we. The very top, BTW, is Rye’s.

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A postcard of the Armory in Mount Vernon.

Q: I have some old maps from the late 1960s that show an armory on First Avenue in Mount Vernon, but I don’t know of any armory building there now. What happened to it?
—Ben Haroldson, Mount Vernon

A: Ben, you nearly stumped us. We solicited help from our usual fantastic sources, to no avail. But then we spoke to Donna Jackson, the protégé of the City of Mount Vernon’s historian and a board member of the Westchester County Historical Society, and she kept our stumpless streak alive. Jackson tells us that “the Armory location moved around a bit before settling into its permanent quarters on North Fifth Avenue.”
It all started back in 1876 when the Eleventh Separate Company, Fifth Brigade, Third Division, of the National Guard formed in the “Armory at Fourth Avenue Hall.” The location, also known as “Fullers Hall,” was “both a social gathering and political meeting place for Mount Vernonites,” Jackson explains. Later, the Armory moved to its current location on Fifth Avenue and North Street. But a Mt. Vernon Chronicle article indicates it moved there not from its previous location on Fourth Avenue, but from the Fifth Avenue Opera House “on Fifth Avenue and First Street, a building used for political functions such as Democratic meetings,” and, so says the Chronicle, for the “Eleventh Separate Company’s Glee club practice.”
No, that’s not a metaphor for some secret military operation; the boys really sang (Admiral Will Schuester anyone?). So we’re not sure why your map shows the Armory on First Avenue, but we’re pretty sure you just misread it and it said First Street. But feel free to send us a copy of this mysterious map and we’ll happily revisit the subject.

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Q: There was a war memorial on Grasslands Road, just west of Bradhurst Avenue, which you saw as you got on the Sprain going south. It was always hidden in the weeds, and there was no place to pull over to see it. What was it and why was it moved?
—Chris Bonfiglio, Thornwood

A: Once again, we turn to Patrick Raftery, librarian for the Westchester County Historical Society. (An aside: Like this column? It’s probably because you enjoy local history. So donate something to your local or county historical society. Capice?) We will let Raftery explain, and add in a little tidbit here and there:
“A skirmish was fought on February 3, 1780, at Young’s House on present-day Bradhurst Avenue at the site of Blythedale Children’s Hospital.” (That would be Joseph Young, a local landowner.) “A mixed force of British, Hessian, and Loyalist troops came north from New York City and routed a group of Massachusetts soldiers who were stationed at Young’s House.”
“About twenty Americans and a number of British soldiers were killed, and they were buried in a mass grave on the east side of Bradhurst Avenue about where Armand Place is now located. In 1923, workmen accidentally uncovered the grave. The remains were moved to an area on Grasslands Road, and the D.A.R. [Daughters of the American Revolution…we had to Google it, too] placed a monument over the grave. At the time, the monument was located at the entrance to the Grasslands Reservation. However, the entrance road was moved when the Sprain Parkway came through, and the monument found itself in the middle of an interchange.”

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