Tag Archives: Bayside Historical Society

Historic Bayside cemetery receives much-needed renovation funds


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Asha Mahadevan

Bayside’s historic cemetery received $50,000 in state funds to renovate and extend the site’s cast-iron fencing.

State Sen. Tony Avella helped allocate the funds for the 1967 historic landmarked site, the Lawrence Cemetery.

“It’s one of the last ties to Bayside’s colonial past,” said Peter DiBenedetto, president of the Bayside Historical Society. “It’s hard to come by grants from the state so we’re really thankful for this money.”

The site is named after former owners John and William Lawrence. The Lawrence family gained the land in 1645 under the Dutch Governor of New Amsterdam. While the site is known today as a cemetery, it wasn’t until 1832 that the first burial took place. The last one happened in 1939.

The cast-iron fence only surrounds half of the site and the other half of the perimeter has a chain-link fence that DiBenedetto describes as “dilapidated.” With the new grant money, the historic society will replace the chain-link fence with iron.

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For the last five years, DiBenedetto said, the Bayside Historical Society hasn’t received any state senate grants, making this new source of money a welcome addition to their coffers.

The money will also be used for general maintenance work.

“Some of the gravestones are looking pretty shabby,” DiBenedetto said.

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Star of Queens: Paul Di Benedetto, president, Bayside Historical Society


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

QC03282013

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

COMMUNITY INVOLVMENT: As president of the Bayside Historical Society, Paul Di Benedetto heads the board of directors and helps to define its mission.

The group, formed in 1964, works to archive and preserve Bayside’s history by maintaining those properties that have already been landmarked, as well as working to landmark other sites in Bayside. Di Benedetto said the group was originally formed to save Fort Totten and the Lawrence Cemetery. The two sites are now a NYC landmark and since then the society has been working to provide maintenance for both.

The society also works to educate people about Bayside’s history.

Di Benedetto has been president of the society for a year. He is also a member of Community Board 11.

BACKGROUND: Di Benedetto has been living in Bayside since 1995. He said he originally moved there because of its proximity to Manhattan, where he was working at the time, and fell in love with the historical houses in the area.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Di Benedetto says his favorite memory in working with the society is seeing the look of joy in children, and even adults, as they learn of the area’s history. “It’s great to see how they take [history] up too and how it relates to them.”

INSPIRATION: Di Benedetto said he didn’t like the fact that land developers would come in and destroy many of the homes in the area.

“I didn’t like the fact that developers and short-sighted people were coming and buying the houses,” he said. “They’d clear the properties and put all this asbestos in the air.” In working with the society, Di Benedetto hopes to halt, if not completely stop, this kind of development.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “It’s a lack of understanding,” Di Benedetto said about trying to get sites landmarked. “People are afraid for some reason.” Di Benedetto said he tries to get people to understand that by landmarking a site, their house or property is “locked in time.”

 

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Neighbors rally against changes to historic Douglaston home


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Neighboring residents of a historic Douglaston house rallied last Friday to save the 19th century remnant from proposed changes.

The new owner of the 38-60 Douglaston Parkway site has submitted plans to the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) to significantly alter the house. The department issued a “partial job” permit to property owner Xiu Jun Zhai on March 4 to change the number of stories in the building, according to an application the DOB approved in February.

The plans were not specific but called for “vertical and horizontal enlargement” of the 1,800-square-foot structure and partial demolition that “affects the exterior building envelope,” the application said.

“We’re talking about saving a tiny bit of history,” said Paul Di Benedetto, president of the Bayside Historical Society. “Once it’s gone, it never ever will be replaced. If you erase the history of an area, then you take away its character and its soul.”

The house, which sits on about 9,000-square-feet of land, dates back to the 1860s. It is located within the proposed Douglaston Historic District Extension, which was calendared for landmark designation in 2008. The approximate 20 homes in the extension mark the area’s transition from its rural origins to smaller farms and suburban estates, preservationists said.

Elisabeth de Bourbon, spokesperson for the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), said the agency is still “actively considering” giving landmark designation to the extension.

Zhai bought the property last October for $660,000, according to State Senator Tony Avella. The building has been vacant for five years.

According to a source who did not want to be named, the property owner plans on making changes only to the inside of the home to make it “livable.” He does not want to alter the building’s exterior, the source said.

But the city allowing the new homeowner to alter the historic home sets a precedent, Avella said.

“It’s like a domino effect,” the legislator said. Before you know it, you’ve lost the character and the historic nature of this very wonderful neighborhood.”

 

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What to do this weekend in Queens


| MKirk@queenscourier.com

SATURDAY, JANUARY 12

At 10:30 a.m., Alley Pond Environmental Center, located at 22806 Northern Boulevard, Flushing, will be holding an event titled “Young Chefs,” which invites kids to prepare homemade grilled cheese sandwiches and fresh banana split milkshakes. All materials will be included. Space is limited to eight participants and registration is required. Recommended for ages 7-12. Admission is $24 for non-members and $18 for members. For more information, call 718-229-4000, email contact@alleypond.com or visit alleypond.com.

At 2 p.m., Flushing Library, located at 41-17 Main Street, Flushing, presents the first part of the three-part Twilight Concert series, where Members of the Con Brio Ensemble will perform works by Brahms, Poulenc, Handel and others. The Ensemble is made up of critically acclaimed musicians, including violinist Alexander Meshibovsky, pianist Diana Mittler, oboist Alan Hollander and vocalist Barbara Ann Martin. Admission is $12 and $10 for students and senior citizens. TDF vouchers will be accepted. For more information, call 718-661-1200.

At 6 p.m., Dance Fusion, at 40-04 Junction Boulevard in Jackson Heights invites you to party your way into fi tness and the New Year with Zumba! Join us for an exciting and fun class taught by a licensed and experienced instructor. Even those who have never experienced this exciting new way to work out will love it! Classes are $10 per session.

With shows beginning at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., The Chocolate Factory, located at 5-49 49th Avenue, Long Island City, presents “There There,” an unpredictable and moving play about being the  wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time doing all the wrong things. For tickets and for more information, visit chocolatefactorytheater.org or call 212-352-3101.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 13

At 10 a.m., Queens Botanical Garden, located at 43-50 Main Street, Flushing, will be holding an electronic waste recycling event. Bring your unwanted or broken electronics such as old phones, chargers, handheld toys, TVs, cameras, holiday lights and more and they will be disposed free of charge. All participants will also have a chance to enter a free raffle to win a new 21-inch iMac and will also receive a “Green Karma” coupon worth anywhere from $5 to $500, redeemable at the Tekserve store. For more information, contact Darcy Hector at 718-886-3800 or dhector@queensbotanical.org.

At 2 p.m., Bayside Historical Society, located at 208 Totten Avenue, Fort Totten, Bayside, will be holding its Annual Art Show 2013. The event will also include a performance by Lindsay Megiddo. Those interested in submitting original works are encouraged to view an information packet and complete a registration form, both of which can be accessed at baysidehistorical.org on the Events page. For more information, call 718-352-1548 or visit baysidehistorical.org.

At 2:15 p.m., Flushing Town Hall presents New York City’s preeminent ambassadors of Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba and Plena music and dance. Lead by National Heritage winner Juan Gutirrez, this unique troupe of Puerto Rican master traditional artists and seasoned New York musicians are leaders in the resurgence of the Island’s traditional music in NY. Tickets are $12/$10 members/$8 children/$6 member children. Flushing Town Hall is located at 137-35 Northern Boulevard. To learn more, call 718- 463-7700.

At 4:30 p.m., Church-In-the-Gardens, located at 50 Ascan Avenue, Forest Hills, presents the second part of the three-part Twilight Concert series, where Members of the Con Brio Ensemble will perform works by Brahms, Poulenc, Handel and others. The Ensemble is made up of critically acclaimed musicians, including violinist Alexander Meshibovsky, pianist Diana Mittler, oboist Alan Hollander and vocalist Barbara Ann Martin. Admission is $12 and $10 for students and senior citizens. TDF vouchers will be accepted. For more information, call 718-268-6704.

ONGOING THRU SATURDAY, JANUARY 26

The Secret Theatre, located at 4402 23rd Street, Long Island City, presents “Urinetown, the Musical,” a Tony-Award-winning production set in a dystopian city where a water shortage has forced private toilets to be outlawed. Out of the residents who are furious over the fact that they have to share public facilities, a hero rises to lead them through a comedic, music-infused revolution. Evening shows Thursday through Saturday are at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m., with a special matinee performance on January 26 at 3 p.m. For more information, contact Alyssa Van Gorder at 718-392-0722 or pr@secrettheatre.com.

ONGOING THRU WEDNESDAY, MAY 1

The Louis Armstrong House Museum, located at 34-56 107th Street, Corona, presents its Louis Armstrong at Freedomland exhibit. The exhibit, curated by Louis Armstrong House Museum Archivist Ricky Riccardi, paints an intimate portrait of Armstrong on stage and off during the turbulent years of 1961 to 1964, spreading joy to fans young and old with his integrated band of all stars. Major funding for the exhibit is made possible by the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday through Sunday and closed on Mondays. Admission is $10 for adults; $7 for seniors 65 and older, students and children and free for members and children under four. A $6 group rate is available for groups of at least eight, in which case it is asked that an appointment be made. For more information, call 718-478-8274 or visit louisarmstronghouse.org.

MORE WEEKEND EVENTS

 

What to do this weekend in Queens


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

SATURDAY, JANUARY 5

Starting at 9 a.m., Church on the  Hill, located at 167-07 35th Avenue, Flushing, will be holding an auction. Items will include collectibles, artwork,  jewelry, antiques, furs, furniture, household items, linens, new and vintage items and more. Door prizes,  lunch, refreshments and take-out will  also be available. Admission is free. For more information, visit churchonthehill.org.

Starting at noon, Bayside Historical Society, located at 208 Totten Avenue, Fort Totten, Bayside, will be holding a Kids Walk-in Workshop. Families are invited to bring their children so that they can enjoy playing and crafting in the Step Back in Time Room, a space dedicated to the young and curious. Admission is $3 per child and free for parents and guardians accompanying children. For more information, call 718-352-1548 or visit baysidehistorical.org.

York College Performing Arts Center, located at 94-20 Guy R. Brewer Boulevard, Jamaica, presents “Black Wall Street,” a play set in 1921 about a small community in Tulsa, Oklahoma inhabited by African Americans, Native Americans and Jews, all fleeing oppression and living and doing business with each other harmoniously. The play begins when the more influential members of the community gather to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of their success, when outside forces threaten to tear down everything they’ve built. Shows start at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. For more information, contact Matthew Katz at 718-262-3750 or mkatz@york.cuny.edu, or visit http://www.yorkpac.com.

At 6 p.m., Holy Cross Elementary School, located at 12-01 150th Street, Whitestone, will be holding its 2012 Frenz for a Cause Zumbathon. Zumba instructor Cryss Fitness, along with others, will be leading a 90-minute Zumba class to raise money for the Thoracic Research Fund at Sloane Kettering. For more information, contact Crystal Varellas at 718-629-7762 or cryss.fitness@me.com.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 6

At 9:30 a.m., Temple Tikvah, located at 3315 Hillside Avenue, New Hyde Park, will be holding a blood drive for the new year, sponsored by the Sisterhood of Temple Tikvah. For more information, call 516-746-1120.

At 1 p.m., St. Josaphat’s Church, located at 210th Street and 35th Avenue, Bayside, presents Music
for the Christmas Season. The performance will feature Angelus Choir and guest soloists and is directed by Izabela Grajner-Partyka. All are welcome. Free will contribution. For more information, call 718-229-1663 or visit stjosaphatbayside.org.

ONGOING THRU SUNDAY, JANUARY 6

Beginning at noon, Queens Museum of Art, located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, presents “Caribbean: Crossroads of the World,” a show that features more than 400 works, including painting, sculpture, prints, books, photography, film, videos and historic artifacts from various Caribbean nations, Europe, and the United States. “Caribbean: Crossroads of the World” examines the exchange of people, goods, ideas and information between the Caribbean basin, Europe and North America, and explores the impact of these relationships on the Caribbean and how it is imagined. Admission is $5 adults, $2.50 students and senior citizens, and free for children under seven.

Check out more events or submit your own

Bayside through the years


| mchan@queenscourier.com

bayside
Photos by Melissa Chan; historic photos courtesy of the Bayside Historical Society

This view of Bell Boulevard was taken in 1916 and features the tracks that Bayside’s trolley ran along.

 


In the winter of 1950, this sledder overlooked the hills at Oakland Golf Course, which is now the location of the Queensborough Community College campus.

 

The old Bell Tavern, with “Chinese and American” lunch and dinner is long gone and has been replaced by Bayside’s little slice of New Orleans, Bourbon Street.

 

The corner of Bell and Northern boulevards marks the spot where one of the first enamel-steel prefabricated White Castle outlets was well-established by 1933. Today, the neighborhood has grown up and the castle is larger, but the burgers are about the same.

Historical landmarks in northeast Queens


| mchan@queenscourier.com

2-Officers Club

Bayside and Fresh Meadows residents do not need to go far for a piece of their neighborhood’s past, as the neighborhoods boast four landmarked sites.

The Lawrence Cemetery, located in a wooded area at the corner of 216th Street and 42nd Avenue in Bayside, was designated an official city landmark in 1967. According to the BHS, the tiny cemetery is home to a variety of headstones, marking the final resting place of 40 members of the prominent Lawrence family, including John Lawrence, an original patentee, who was mayor of New York City twice in 1673 and 1691.

 

 

 

 

 

The Officers’ Club, known as “The Castle,” was placed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 1986. Bayside Historical Society (BHS) officials said the Bayside benchmark is one of the finest surviving examples in the city of the Gothic Revival castellated style, an architectural style that was popular in America in the mid 1800s.

 

 

 

 

 

The 35-34 Bell Boulevard cobblestone building, located on a commercial street in Bayside, gained historical status in 2004 for being a “rare example of a house built from cobblestones in New York City,” according to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). Construction on the two-and-a-half story structure was completed in 1906.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Brinckerhoff Cemetery, a colonial-era burial ground in Fresh Meadows, was given recent landmark status this August for its archeological importance. LPC officials said the 18th Century cemetery, located on 182nd Street, ties New York City to its earliest days as a Dutch settlement. The site is the final resting place for roughly 80 of the borough’s earliest and most prominent settlers. Community leaders fought to preserve the site for more than a decade after critics had raised regulatory questions about the possible designation, saying the land — which is now peppered with scattered trees and shrubs — had no visible markers or gravestones. LPC leaders, however, ultimately decided there is no evidence the historic graves and markers were removed and agreed the site’s subsurface conditions should not be disturbed.

A history of Bayside in pictures


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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Photos and Captions Courtesy of the Bayside Historical Society

Melissa Chambers Bell (right) and her children are seen in front of the house that was originally built by her grandfather-in-law Abraham Bell I. The home was situation on the northwest corner of Bell and Warburton Avenues.

 

 

 

 

 

Abraham Bell II built this home in 1870 as a wedding present for his bride to be, Melissa Chambers. The home was located across the street from Abraham Bell I on the southwest corner of Bell and Warburton Avenues.

 

 

Known as the “Cypress Lumber King,” William L. Burton purchased 54 acres from H.W. Leavitt in 1906 and built this 15-room mansion at an estimated cost of $200,000. The property is now the current site of the Baybridge Condominium development.

 

 

 

Pictured here is Bayside and its connection with Little Neck Bay before and after the construction of the Cross Island Parkway. Initiated by the city’s Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, work to build the parkway began in 1934 with sand that was dredged out of the Ambrose Channel, towed up the East River, and pumped onto the shoreline from Willets Point to just past Northern Boulevard. The parkway was officially dedicated in 1940 and included a bridge extending over the highway at 28th Avenue to a pier and launching facility that replaced one built by the Bayside Yacht Club.