A new group is aiming to preserve the iconic Steinway Mansion for future generations to enjoy the historic local landmark.
The Friends of Steinway Mansion is a newly formed coalition with members including Steinway & Sons, the Queens Economic Development Corporation, local officials and historians.
“It is the stuff of New York legend. Within its walls was ‘the cradle of creativity,’ under its beams lived ‘a household of genius.’ It is cut from the cloth that defines our city,” said Bob Singleton, coalition founder and executive director of the Greater Astoria Historical Society. “It is a place that celebrates something any New Yorker instinctively understands – it is a monument to the unique spirit of New York and its people.”
The coalition will have to raise millions of dollars for the purchase of the house, which has been on sale for about two years at a reported asking price of $2.9 million. Funds are also needed for maintenance, restoration, and conversion into a public facility.
The 27 rooms in the mansion could become a museum space or a teaching and learning center for small concerts and workshops, according to Singleton.
The mansion that sits on top of a hill at 18-33 41st Street in Astoria was built in the 1850s by Benjamin Pike and was later sold to the Steinway family as a summer home around 1870, with the Steinway & Sons piano factory built decades later only a few blocks away. In the 1920s, the home was sold to the Halberian family and has stayed in the family ever since. It was later selected as a New York City Landmark in 1967.
“We fully support the efforts to preserve the Steinway Mansion and its historical relevance,” said Anthony Gilroy, director of marketing and communications for Steinway & Sons. “The Mansion is one of the oldest and most historic buildings in the area. It predates our factory by about two decades – and we’ve been in this spot since the early 1870s.”
In a 2006 documentary on the iconic home featuring the late Henry Steinway and Mike Halberian, who died in 2010, Halberian offers a hope that “that generations yet unborn have an opportunity to experience the house and its surrounding property’s extraordinary magic,” said Singleton.
“Steinway Mansion is one of Queens most treasured landmarks. For the past 155 years it has stood as a tangible window into the fascinating past of New York City and its influential residents,” said Assemblymember Aravella Simotas.
Promising Halberian that his dream would come true, the coalition members are making sure the mansion is preserved with the help of the public, as the Friends of Steinway Mansion will formally kick off its campaign in early May.
“The public can help. Email us or better, drum up public support on Facebook at our Friends of Steinway Mansion page,” said Singleton. “Let your imagination free. Give us your suggestions and ideas.”
Photo courtesy of Greater Astoria Historical Society, Henry Z. Steinway Collection