Tag Archives: Lawrence Cemetery

As Landmarks Law turns 50, Queens will celebrate ‘Landmarks Month’


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Asha Mahadevan

To mark five decades since the city enacted legislation protecting its most historic places, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz announced events to celebrate “Landmarks Month” across Queens this April.

“Queens landmarks will together celebrate the golden anniversary of the Landmarks Law with a series of events designed to educate residents and visitors of our neighborhoods’ beautiful and rich histories,” Katz said Friday. “As our communities and families grow, our borough also balances that growth with efforts to preserve the irreplaceable landmark treasures that contextualize our present and shape our future.”

The borough president’s office launched a special website that includes a Google Map showing the locations of Queens’ more than 70 individual landmarks and 11 historic districts and a calendar of events in honor of the Landmark Law’s golden jubilee.

The celebratory events include a tour of the landmark Lawrence Cemetery hosted by the Bayside Historical Society on Sunday, April 19, at 11 a.m.; an afternoon tea at the Voekler Orth Museum in Flushing on July 26 at 2 p.m.; and meetings of the Queens Preservation Council on April 27, May 18 and June 29 at Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens.

Katz will also host an anniversary reception for the Landmarks Law at the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Tuesday, April 21, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The program includes a glimpse of the Queens Museum’s special exhibit, “Panorama of Queens, 1965-2015: Fifty Years of Landmarking,” in which special markers on the museum’s Panorama of New York City indicate the location of Queens landmarks.

Admission to the reception is free, but those attending are encouraged to reserve a place by emailing RSVP@queensbp.org.

Then-Mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr. signed the Landmarks Law in April 1965, which created the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), an organization tasked with considering and declaring certain buildings and places of historical significance as public landmarks.

The legislation was drafted amid public outcry over the original Pennsylvania Station’s demolition. The Beaux-Arts stone structure at the corner of 33rd Street and 7th Avenue in Manhattan was torn down to make way for the Madison Square Garden sports arena, an office tower and a smaller underground train station.

The LPC named its first Queens landmark on Oct. 14, 1965, granting status to the Kingsland Homestead in Flushing. Most recently, the LPC approved in December 2014 the creation of the Ridgewood Central Historic District, preserving more than 900 attached rowhouses in the heart of the neighborhood.

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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.

_3Cemetery-3

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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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.