Fort Totten’s history is slowly fading away.
The historic Bayside park is home to several dilapidated and historic buildings that have been sitting vacant and in need of repair, according to the Bayside Historical Society. The oldest among these is the Willets Farmhouse, built in 1829, making it the oldest building in the area.
Despite the deteriorating conditions none of the buildings will be repaired anytime soon, according to city records.
“We would like to see them all being used so they’re not lost to history,” said Paul DiBenedetto, president of the historic society, who said that the Parks Department hasn’t done enough work on the older buildings to preserve them. “I see the realism of it but I don’t like the fact they abandoned these buildings.”
A Parks Department spokeswoman said that the farmhouse was worked on in 2013 to stabilize it but the area is completely fenced off and no one is allowed inside to check the building’s condition. Abandoned NYC, a website devoted to decaying sites, published a photo tour of some of the buildings in 2012.
The park has more than 100 structures that were built between 1829 and the 1960s. In 1999 it was landmarked as a historical site because many of the buildings “have a special character and special historical and aesthetic interest and value which represent one or more eras in the history of New York City,” the Landmarks Preservation Commission wrote, “and which cause this area, by reason of these factors, to constitute a distinct section of the city.”
Part park, Fort Totten is also part office space for various government entities like the FDNY and the Parks Department, among many other agencies.
The Parks Department is in the planning phase of a $2.1 million restoration project, of the roofs of two historic buildings: the Chapel and the Commander’s House, both of which were built in the early 1900s, a parks spokeswoman said. But construction won’t begin until next year, leaving the two historic buildings exposed to rain and other natural elements that will eat away at the building.
The groundskeeper for the park said that if something isn’t done soon, the buildings would be damaged beyond repair. And as winter approaches, groundskeeper Mac Harris knows that the buildings will suffer.
“The roofs are not being repaired,” Mac Harris said. “The buildings are slowly being decayed.”
- Queens Chamber celebrates winners of annual building awards
- Bramson ORT College expanding main Forest Hills campus
- Sunnyside movie theater closing for residential development