Tag Archives: Landmarks Preservation Commission

82nd Street Partnership unveils restoration of historic Jackson Heights building


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of the 82nd Street Partnership

Together with the Jackson Heights Historic District, the 82nd Street Partnership has unveiled a restoration which marks the beginning of bringing a new look to the diverse area.

The 82nd Street Partnership gathered with representatives from the City’s Department of Small Business Services (SBS), Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), community leaders, groups and merchants to unveil the restoration of a historic building at 82-01 Roosevelt Avenue.

The Tuesday unveiling was the beginning of the “Storefront Restoration Program” which will restore building façades and enhance the district’s sense of place by the end of the year.

The 82nd Street Partnership was one of the seven Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) which won SBS’ 2013 “Neighborhood Challenge” initiative with the goal to encourage innovation and creativity in local economic development programming.

Investing in the $50,000 award it received from the “challenge,” the BID set out to support property owners and merchants in Jackson Heights by assisting them with free design assistance and offering a matching construction grant as part of the new restoration program.

By the end of the year the program will have renovated seven ground floor and three upper floor storefronts at three properties on 82nd Street between 37th and Roosevelt Avenue enhancing the “look and feel” of the area by making the businesses more attractive and inviting to a larger group of customers.

Before

After

The overall restorations will help bring improvements to the area’s quality of life, help preserve retail diversity and improve business conditions, according to the 82nd Street Partnership.

Along with the restorations, the program will also remove 20 LPC violations from three properties.

 

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Community Board 7 approves Bowne House visitor center designs


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo rendering by Parks Department

Designs for the new $2.7 million Bowne House visitor center include a smaller-than-planned building and sliding, wooden barn doors.

Community Board 7 approved the Parks Department’s construction plans for a 1,250-square-foot center, that will be free to the public, on October 28.

It is 400 square feet smaller than originally proposed, officials said, and will be located southeast to the historic Bowne House at Bowne Street and 38th Avenue in Flushing.

“Essentially, our design intent is to work as gently on the property as possible, to build as small of a building as possible, to serve the needs of the Bowne House Historical Society,” said Julie Nymann, a Parks deputy director of architecture.

The 1.5-story building will have a gallery, lobby, two restrooms, a small office and areas for mechanics and storage, Nymann said. Mostly school groups will use the center, she said.

It has a wood-like look with American Cedar sliding barn doors and a musket-gray roof, said the Parks Department.

Surrounding fences and some trees in poor health will be replaced during the project, Nymann said.

Construction is expected to be completed in less than two years, according to a Parks spokesperson.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission and the State Historic Preservation Office both need to approve the design, and the city’s Department of Buildings needs to issue a permit, before any work is done.

This summer, officials broke ground on a $3.2 million project to restore the Bowne House, a 17th century symbol of religious freedom and one of the oldest structures in the city.

The city-landmarked house will get a new roof, gutters, pipes, wood wall shingles and steel columns, among other exterior restorations.

It was built in the 1660s by John Bowne and used for Quaker meetings when religious diversity was forbidden by law.

The house is a “quintessential reminder of our nation’s religious history,” Nymann said.

 

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Forest Park Carousel honored in landmarking ceremony


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Eric Yun

Elected officials, residents and members of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) held a ceremony to commemorate the designation of the Forest Park Carousel on Monday.

To honor the new landmark, the LPC unveiled a plaque, which states the history of the century-old carousel and its designer, Daniel Muller.

“Preserving our history strengthens our neighborhoods,” said Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley. “I was proud to work with the LPC, the Parks Department, and community advocates to ensure this historic carousel continues to be a treasure for future generations.”

The carousel was shuttered from 2008 to 2012, but last year, New York Carousel Entertainment LLC, which also owns the carousel in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, decided to buy and revitalize it.

The LPC made the classic Woodhaven ride a city treasure and ensured its preservation with a unanimous 8-0 vote on June 25.

The carousel, which was brought to Forest Park in 1973, is comprised of 49 horses, a lion, a tiger, a deer, and two chariots arranged in three concentric circles, all carved with great attention to detail. There are also paintings depicting settings in Woodhaven and other parts of Queens.

“It’s taken an enormous amount of well-deserved dedication and work over the past 40 years to save this exquisitely carved carousel,” said LPC Chair Robert Tierney. “It’s an incredible work of American folk art that was manufactured by a firm that was celebrated for its highly realistic work and attention to detail, and I’m delighted it will be protected for generations to come in one of the most picturesque settings in New York City.”

 

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Sunnyside Gardens residents don’t want aluminum house in neighborhood


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of Campani and Schwarting Architects

Sunnyside Gardens residents and local officials are saying no to an aluminum exhibition house and residential development looking for a new site to call home.

The Aluminaire House – an all-aluminum, historic home built in 1931 for a New York City exhibition – is proposed to be relocated to the corner of 39th Avenue and 50th Street in the landmarked district of Sunnyside Gardens. The house would be surrounded by an eight-unit apartment building which property owner Harry Otterman is also looking to construct.

Although architects Michael Schwarting and Frances Campani of Campani and Schwarting Architects, who run the Aluminaire House Foundation, believe the house would be a “positive contribution to the cultural milieu of the historic district,” many of those opposed say the structure is out of character with the neighborhood’s brick homes.

“The Aluminaire House is wrong for our neighborhood and quite frankly the town housing is all inconsistent with the historic district,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who lives in the area.

“The consistency in the colors and in the materials is essential to what creates that sense of place, and while the Aluminaire House is terrific and interesting, it is not the right neighborhood [for it].”

The nearly 23’ wide by 29’ deep aluminum house was dismantled and is currently in storage on Long Island. If constructed in Sunnyside Gardens, it would serve as a museum and gallery open to the public.

Yet, many residents do not believe a museum is appropriate for the area and would only promote vandalism.

The Sunnyside Gardens property was previously used as an outdoor nursery and playground, one of the few Depression Era play areas left in the city. The property was sold in 2007 after it became a part of the historic district. Residents hope to bring the park back to life to be used by future generations.

“The playground has been used by the community for generations, just as it was intended, and it can continue to serve for the community as a play area and community garden,” said Herbert Reynolds of the Sunnyside Gardens Preservation Alliance.  “It [the Aluminaire House] would deserve a far better future with more forethought than to force it upon our neighborhood where it’s not only out of place, but it’s simply unwanted by the great majority of our neighbors.”

The City’s Historic Districts Council met with Campani and Schwarting Architects on September 12 and did not support the plan. On September 19, Community Board 2 voted against the proposal to bring both the Aluminaire house and the residential development to the neighborhood stating it “contrasts to the surrounding community.”

Although the opposition from the community has been heard, Schwarting said they are still looking to bring the Aluminaire House to the area and will wait to see what the Landmarks Preservation Commission decides on October 15.

“We understand the community is concerned, but I feel that everyone had already made up their mind and I was not able to convince them that this will be a very positive contribution to the neighborhood visually and culturally,” said Schwarting. “It will not be an ugly duckling that everyone is worried about once it is there. We will see what Landmarks thinks.”

 

Old Jamaica High School now a landmark


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Landmarks Preservation Committee

When the first Jamaica High School was built, residents and community leaders wanted the building to “express refinement, public spirit and taste of that community.” Now, centuries later, the site has been deemed a landmark.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) named the 19th century, Dutch Revival building a landmark on Tuesday, June 25. The commission said the building went up in 1896, when borough residents began to both realize the importance of higher education and enforce education laws.

The Hillside Avenue site originally was home to a combined grammar and high school named P.S. 47. However, the school became overcrowded and the grammar school was moved elsewhere, morphing the building into Jamaica High School. It remained as such until 1927.

The three-story building was designed by William Bunker Tubby, a prominent Brooklyn architect who was known throughout the city for his historic revival style designs, particularly the Pratt Institute library and five Carnegie libraries in Brooklyn.

“The fact that such a distinguished architect was selected to produce a highly original, distinctive building underscored the prosperity and growth of Jamaica,” said LPC Chair Robert Tierney. “It also shows how serious the town was about educating its children.”

Tubby gave the building a distinctive design for Jamaica’s growing population, which is said to have expressed the town’s optimism about its future development. At the time, schools were changing from simple structures to “civic monuments,” said the LPC.

The building’s Dutch Revival style features red and tan bricks. “Unusual” elements of the school include stepped and arched windows as well as a tall, hipped roof accentuated by “witch’s hat” dormers and high chimneys, according to the LPC.

In 1927, Jamaica High School moved out of the building to a new site on Gothic Drive, also a city landmark. The original site became a vocational school, and now serves as the Jamaica Learning Center, an alternative high school.

 

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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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State senator wants to landmark Flushing Meadows-Corona Park


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Landmark the park.

That’s what State Senator Tony Avella wants for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to block development in the area.

These include an entertainment center at Willets Point — an area that is technically parkland — along with expansions at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and a proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium.

The projects are either inside or on the edge of the park, but only the proposed soccer arena would require replacement parkland to be installed somewhere relatively close to Flushing Meadows. Normal park users, however, will not get the same access to this new park, Avella said, and Flushing Meadows would become overcrowded.

“Normally when you have some alienation, [and] you have some land coming in, you have to replace parkland of equal acreage some place everyone can agree upon. You may actually replace the amount of acreage, but the number of people who use it would be significantly less.”

Landmarking includes a review of the park for its historical and cultural value. The independent commission will look at these and decide whether or not it goes to a full vote.

“We put together what I think are very significant reasons why it should be done,” said Avella. “The historic aspect of the park in terms of two Worlds Fairs, housing the United Nations for a period of time and the fact that it is the borough park.

All three projects require a vote from the City Council, and then approval from the state because green space will be lost. Avella said should the bill go to the state level — in order to approve any removed parkland — he would push his colleagues in the chamber to vote down the expansions.

Risa Heller, spokesperson for MLS, said the league wanted to help refurbish the park and have a long working relationship with the parks department.

“MLS is deeply committed the long term health and vibrancy of FMCP which is why we will make a significant investment in the park in addition to replacing community fields,” she said. “We plan to be a long term partner for the park and plan to do everything we can to ensure it meets the needs of the surrounding communities.”

Spokespersons for USTA and the Willets project were reached for comment, but were not able to respond by press time.

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Brinckerhoff Cemetery granted landmark status by City Council


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Landmarks Preservation Commission

The landmark status of a historic Colonial-era burial ground in Fresh Meadows has been approved by the City Council.

The council voted overwhelmingly to accept Brinckerhoff Cemetery’s landmark designation on December 10 after the 18th century site was approved for official landmark status by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) in August.

“With the landmarking of the Brinckerhoff cemetery, an irreplaceable part of Queens’ history will be preserved in perpetuity,” said Councilmember James Gennaro. “The countless hours that I and many others dedicated to this landmarking have been a wonderful investment that will yield historic and educational dividends for the people of Queens for generations to come.”

Local leaders and preservationists in the neighborhood fought through endless legal wrangling for more than a decade to save the 182nd Street site, Gennaro said.

The vote preserves and protects the final resting place for roughly 80 of the borough’s earliest and most prominent settlers from development.

“Queens is rich with historical treasures dating back to the Dutch era, from the Flushing Remonstrance and the Bowne House to Brinckerhoff Cemetery,” said Councilmember Dan Halloran. “It’s important to preserve the historical legacy of the borough.”

The next step, Gennaro said, is to find a nonprofit group capable of purchasing and maintaining the property.

According to the LPC, 13 cemeteries in the city have been designated as landmarks, including seven in Queens.

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.

Historic Queens church gets grant


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

St Georges Flushingw

The New York Landmarks Conservancy has announced 23 Sacred Sites Grants totaling $294,500 awarded to historic religious properties throughout New York State, including St. George’s Church in Flushing.

“You don’t have to be religious to understand that religious institutions contain some of our finest art and architecture. Many also provide vital social service programs and cultural activities that make significant contributions to their communities,” said Peg Breen, president of The New York Landmarks Conservancy.

St. George’s Church was pledged a $25,000 Robert W. Wilson Sacred Sites Challenge Grant for additional masonry on a wood steeple and spire restoration project atop the stone tower. The steeple was destroyed during a tornado in 2010 that touched down in Queens and Brooklyn.

Prominently sited on Main Street in the heart of downtown Flushing, St. George’s Episcopal Church is a notable example of Gothic Revival design and was designated a New York City landmark in 2001. Erected in 1853-54, to the designs of Wills & Dudley, this building is constructed of broken-range ashlar-faced granite with brownstone trim. This is the congregation’s third church building on the site since 1746. The church is a rare surviving work in New York City by Wills & Dudley. In 1894, J. King James designed a very contextual chancel wing that matches the vocabulary of the sanctuary. The interior is largely intact and contains exceptional stained glass windows.

A tornado in September 2010 destroyed the wood-frame steeple atop the stone bell tower. Since then, the Conservancy provided an emergency grant to help support stabilization and temporary repairs to and protection for the tower and church interior while the congregation mobilized to restore the wood spire.

The church worked with former Flushing resident and preservation architect Kai Woo to develop the second phase of the project: spire restoration. The temporary repairs allowed time for the church to investigate the condition of the masonry and other tower details below the steeple. After realizing that it, too, will require restoration, church leadership decided to take advantage of the scaffolding in place for the tower work. While the spire restoration will be covered by an insurance settlement, the masonry restoration will not.

The non-covered work includes restoring the brownstone trim and details with composite patching; restoring wood louvers or shutters on the tower with composite and Dutchman patching, and repairing window tracery.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission is also requiring that the project restore four “finials” originally located on the four corners of the stone tower but which were long-ago lost. This portion of the project is also not covered by insurance. Using historic photographs as evidence, the spires will be recreated. Kai’s design allows for the new spire to be pre-fabricated off-site in stages to address the logistical difficulties of the long-term parking of a crane on Flushing’s densely populated Main Street.

 

Brinckerhoff Cemetery given landmark status


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Landmarks Preservation Commission

A historic colonial-era burial ground in Fresh Meadows has been given official landmark status, according to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).

The 18th century Brinckerhoff Cemetery will be preserved and protected from development after LPC leaders voted unanimously to designate it as a landmark on August 14, pointing to its archeological importance as a major factor in their decision.

“This cemetery, despite all of the changes that have occurred around it, remains one of a handful of sites that directly ties New York City to its earliest days as a Dutch settlement,” said LPC Chair Robert Tierney.

The 182nd Street site is the final resting place for roughly 80 of the borough’s earliest and most prominent settlers. But since the land bears no visible markers or gravestones, and is now peppered with scattered trees and shrubs, critics had raised regulatory questions about the possible designation.

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.

“There is a hope that buried underneath are headstones and that in the future this site in the right hands could be restored or re-created to a certain extent to the cemetery that it is,” said LPC General Counsel Mark Silberman.

The designation drew praise — and archaic shouts — from dozens of elected officials, civic leaders and preservationists in the neighborhood who pushed to save the cemetery for more than a decade.

“As colonial-era Queens settlers were known [to] exclaim upon hearing great news, it is apropos that we shout huzzah on this day,” Councilmember James Gennaro said. “This designation has been a long time coming. [The cemetery] is a crown jewel in the pantheon of Queens’ rich historical treasures.”

If the City Council votes to approve the designation, Gennaro said the next step would be to find a nonprofit group capable of purchasing and maintaining the property.

Linda’s CAI Trading, which purchased the land in 2010, could not be reached.

Thirteen total cemeteries in the city have been designated as individual landmarks, the LPC said, including seven in Queens.