Bronx, NY

Bronx History: The Lorillard Spencer Estate and The Birth Of Allerton


Advertisement of the Lorillard Estate Auction/Image Courtesy: Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library. "Trustees' Sale with the consent of the Supreme Court of New York. Estate of Lorillard Spencer for the Benefit of the Heirs and the New York Public Library. 1445 Lots at Absolute Auction on White Plains Rd., Boston Rd, Pelham Parkway, Williamsbridge Rd, Allerton Ave, Burke Ave, and Adjacent Avenues & streets, Bronx Borough New York City" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1917-06-02.

A French Huguenot family, the Lorillards, settled in the area which is now known as Allerton as well as parts of the New York Botanical Garden back in the late 1700s. The family became extremely successful in the tobacco industry and their company would eventually give rise to Lorillard Inc, which makes Newport, Kent, and other cigarettes.

By 1840 they had built what is now known as The Snuff Mill at NYBG, which according to the New York Times, "...tobacco was ground into smokeless, powdery form called snuff, which could be flavored and inhaled."
The Snuff Mill along The Bronx River at The New York Botanical Garden was built by the tobacco family The Lorillards.

Fast forward to 1917 with The Bronx as an official county for only 3 years but a part of NYC for 22 years, the descendants of the original Lorillards decided to sell of parts of their estate and carved them up into lots which would give way to the many homes and buildings which eventually gave way to the Allerton neighborhood of our borough just East of Bronx Park and up to as far as parts of Williamsbridge to the edge of Gun Hill Road.

The auction partitioned the property into 1,445 lots and the auction was set to benefit not just the remaining descendants but also the New York Public Library (fun fact, Patience and Fortitude, the lion sculptures outside the main library on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street were made right here in our borough).

It was no coincidence that the 2 subway line along White Plains Road had already begun operation in March of 1917—just 3 months prior to the auction of these lots—making this area that was once rural in nature, prime real estate at bargain prices.

The original name of the neighborhood, Bronxdale or Laconia (depending where in the area you were) never really stuck and for as long as many could remember, it was simply referred to as Allerton.

It wasn't until 2014 that eventually the area OFFICIALLY became known as Allerton when efforts by local residents to push for this official recognition from the city came to fruition.

The street and neighborhood got its name from Daniel Allerton, a 19th century settler of the area.

What are your memories past or present of the neighborhood?

Check out the slideshow below of the auction papers, notices and lots!

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