Monday, February 28, 2011

Pastoral Rego Park Treasures Unearthed!

Shortly after our January 27th posting on Rego Park's Lutheran Church of Our Saviour, showcasing our historic find... a 10th Anniversary publication from 1936 (1931 church cornerstone), a congregant named Jackie Kilberg discovered us, and invited the board members of Rego-Forest Preservation Council on a tour of the charming Colonial frame church, slated for this spring. Jackie is an active congregant since 1969. At the request of fellow congregant Ruth Mueller, she provided scans of her rare photos of Rego Park. We greatly anticipate meeting Jackie Kilberg, Ruth Mueller, and staff members of this classic Rego Park church, within a pastoral setting on bustling 63rd Dr.

If you speak with Ruth Mueller, who was fortunate to grow up in Rego Park in the 1920s, you will feel as if you witnessed how it evolved from a pastoral scene with farmland, dirt roads with steep hills, and porch-fronted frame houses, to the development of 525 8-room Colonial homes off the south side of Queens Blvd bounded by 63rd Dr/Remsen Ave & Eliot Ave ($8,000 each), to the development of its late 1920s apartment houses along Saunders St, the 1939 & 1964 World's Fair, and the era of Howard Johnsons and the Trylon Theater, and all years between. The 1920s was the era when the Rego (Real Good) Construction Company coined Rego Park for real estate purposes, and initiated mass development which grants Rego Park its historic character. Ruth Mueller attends Our Saviour Lutheran Church to this very day, and takes pride in knowing that her photos are being featured.

The Ruth Mueller Collection offers scarce views, which depict 63rd Rd towards 108th St in the 1920s, and a more recent photo from 1937. That vicinity is now largely developed with apartment houses dating to the 1950s and 1960s. The final photo features a 25th anniversary dinner celebration of Lutheran Church of Our Saviour from November 1951.

Lutheran Church of Our Saviour's 25th Anniversary celebration - School Dedication Fellowship Dinner, Nov 9, 1951

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Civic Virtue Drowning In Politics

Triumph of Civic Virtue, Photo by Michael Perlman, Rego-Forest Preservation Council, March 30, 2009
Art is open to interpretation, which is unique art within itself, and with that, some controversy may ensue. Sometimes the artist's vision is misinterpreted. Without public input, a piece of history may be no more, if some electeds have their way.

In an attempt to raise funds, Congressman Anthony Weiner and NYC Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras are asking the city to sell the historic Triumph of Civic Virtue statue from Queens to Craigslist. They claim it's sexist, without being aware of its true meaning. If a statue would be considered sexist or greatly profane a century ago, it would have stirred public outcry.

If it is demolished, or sold to end up in the highest bidder's backyard, then a public monument will be deprived from the countless passersby and the general public, who comprehends its true meaning, appreciates its long-term existence, and craftsmanship.

Civic Virtue was designed in 1920 by renowned sculptor Frederick William MacMonnies, and sculpted by the Piccirilli Brothers, who were all prolific in their trade. It was initially installed in City Hall Park in Manhattan in 1922. To coincide with the development of Queens Borough Hall, it was transported to the north side of Queens Blvd & Union Turnpike in 1941, when Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia took office. The Mayor didn't want to view its backside from City Hall's windows.

Photo by Michael Perlman, March 30, 2009
This statue is surrounded by a fountain which hasn't been restored for decades. Over a period of time, funding should be raised to accomplish a full restoration of this weathered public work. In the name of public art, benefactors need to step up, since the Parks Dept has not maintained it.

Triumph of Civic Virtue depicts a muscular nude Hercules with a sword in his right hand behind his neck, and standing over two mermaid-like Sirens (female figures with bird feathers & scaly feet) in Greek mythology, on top of a four-sided fountain. Its base reads, "This fountain was erected by the city of New York with funds bequeathed by Mrs. Angelina Crane." Civic virtues are defined as: 1. Personal habits and attitudes, which are conducive to social harmony and the common good; 2. The cultivation of habits of personal living, which are claimed to be important for the success of the community.

Would we eradicate a statue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, just because some people may interpret it as "sexist?" Let's start looking for reasons to sell off all of our city's public monuments, as a mere attempt to improve the city's budget, and begin resorting to eBay.

So why would it take 70 years for elected officials to complain, and advocate for its removal from the Queens landscape?

What should be designated a city Landmark, sometimes is not. For an array of photos documenting its superb craftsmanship, visit:

For more information:
Statue Fuels Controversy In Queens,, Feb 25, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hats Off To Volunteerism

Logo from, Feb 8, 2011 posting

Every so often we come across that one piece that reads our mind like a book, and leaves us with an everlasting impression. Take Maria A. Thomson of Woodhaven, who sent a beautifully composed, thought-provoking Letter To The Editor of the Queens Chronicle. It was published on Feb 24, 2011, and is titled "Why We Volunteer."

Maria begins by brainstorming about her community of Woodhaven, and its number of strong organizations, with the Woodhaven Residents' Block Association being the first; now in existence for 4 decades.

She states "Volunteerism should be rewarded, but as a byproduct of volunteering, not the reason for it. The highest reward must be improving your community."

Historic preservation and community organizations such as ours, and those who we associate with, can relate to her sentiments. We support each other throughout many causes, and build upon the success of prior generations' community leaders. She writes, "All community groups need support and involvement, to perpetuate what dedicated individuals have worked for and accomplished over the years  - in my case, for more than a quarter of a century, in some cases even more."

Her letter confirms how we feel the need to improve our communities by making personal life sacrifices to serve the public. Additionally, our community then becomes our personal life commitment.

Maria concludes by urging the public, "Please get involved, but do it with good intent. Volunteerism is rewarding and good for the soul"... "May God bless our leaders, may God bless our armed forces, and may God bless our America."

For more information: Maria A Thomson's complete Letter To The Editor in the Queens Chronicle

Friday, February 18, 2011

Forest Hills Inn Awaits Restoration... Will The Promise Be Fulfilled?

If the Forest Hills Inn's co-op board is able to pull together the funding for a long-awaited restoration of this prominent tower, the facade will once again be appreciated for its historic Tudor appeal, cultural prestige, and the unsightly scaffolding and netting that was erected in 2004 will be a chapter of its not-so-memorable "recent past."

Rendering of Station Square with the Forest Hills Inn, gracing the skyline in a circa 1909 ad. Note the English garden community feel, and the $14 to $18 quotes for a week's stay, which includes meals, the tea garden, golf, tennis, squash, & billiards. Restore the recreational aspect to Forest Hills! Courtesy of Michael Perlman Postcard Collection

Wide-angle of Station Square from LIRR Station on July 27, 2009. A century after its establishment! Sadly, netting obscures the facade for nearly 7 years. Photo by Chair Michael Perlman, Rego-Forest Preservation Council
Aerial view from The Kennedy House at 110-11 Queens Blvd towards Austin St & Station Square, Sept 23, 2010 - Photo by Chair Michael Perlman, Rego-Forest Preservation Council

May the Forest Hills Inn once again be a framing opportunity! This ornate work enhances the ambiance of Nick's Pizza on Ascan Ave in The Tilden Arms apt house.
The Forest Hills Inn is an anchor of Station Square, the Forest Hills Gardens, and the greater community. The Gardens, which was rated #1 in Cottage Living magazine in summer 2007, is our country's earliest and most highly regarded planned communities (1909), inspired by Ebenezer Howard's Garden City Movement. It is a superb and rare model of urban planning, with its Tudor mansions, few apartment buildings, private parks and streets, religious sites, community house, monuments, and the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium as another anchor. 

Station Square Photoset on Flickr by RFPC Chair Michael Perlman

According to published reports, when the deterioration of a pipe of the Forest Hills Inn came to its climax nearly 7 years back, it resulted in flooding, and some residents had to relocate. The facade was also in need of re-pointing and the replacement of some terra-cotta tiles. Netting and scaffolding was erected around that time.The restoration process has reportedly run overtime due to a dispute between the Forest Hills Inn's co-op board and the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation; the latter which ensures that the Forest Hills Gardens' extensive array of historic properties are safeguarded aesthetically, through historic Restrictive Covenants. The co-op board claimed that the Forest Hills Gardens Corp wanted them to remove the "unsightly" scaffolding. Litigation was pursued. A major concern was that if the Forest Hills Gardens Corp kept pursuing litigation, the funding secured for the Forest Hills Inn's restoration would be in jeopardy, in order to finance any necessary attorneys. In any case, it is important for a historically-sensitive restoration that would bring the Forest Hills Inn up to code, and not let legal matters play a major role, since it may jeopardize the future of what is known as a "landmark" by sight.

Let's party like it's July 4, 1919, as featured in a celebration poster. Station Square hosted patriotic festivals in its heyday. Will we schedule another celebration upon completion of the Forest Hills Inn's restoration?

 The Forest Hills Ledger has the full report of the Forest Hills Inn's current status, and hopes for a sightly future:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day, Heart A NY Landmark by The NY Landmarks Conservancy

Happy Valentine's Day! One of the best ways of expressing your admiration is by celebrating in a cozy neighborhood institution, which reads your definition of NYC all over it. Another superb means of celebration is by showing your passion for your neighborhood, and the historic cornerstones which grant its soul. You can fulfill this by advocating for preservation by joining Rego-Forest Preservation Council, attending our periodic meetings, as well as participating in our letter campaigns, and walking tours with Historian Jeff Gottlieb of the Central Queens Historical Association.

We are proud to feature an immediate way of expressing your passion. The New York Landmarks Conservancy is a preservation non-profit organization, which is hosting....

Valentine's Day - Heart A NY Landmark! 

Celebrate this Valentine’s Day by sharing your love for the iconic buildings and unique neighborhoods that define our extraordinary and vibrant City. Submit a photo with the "Heart Landmarks" poster and you’ll receive a copy of one of the Conservancy's Walking Tour Books. 

Send your photo or video of you and the poster at your favorite New York landmark. We will post your submissions on a Facebook album we’ve created especially for the occasion, or to YouTube. Encourage family, friends and co-workers to share the love by sending us their photos or videos too. Celebrate the rich architectural heritage that surrounds us as New Yorkers with fun and creativity this Valentine’s Day.

Click on the link for more details:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Citywide Archaeology Meets Digital

If you don't have the tools but have the passion for archaeology in the 5 boroughs, you now have the power to unearth it through your computer. Besides uncovering landmark designation reports on the Landmarks Preservation Commission's website, you can now feed through their newly uploaded resource of 1,200 excavation sites citywide to date. The reports note site history, potential remnants, field testing, and the significance of what was uncovered. Shovel you way to treasures in your backyard.....

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Addisleigh Park Historic District Designated, Marking Queens' 10th Historic District!

113-02 175th St, Courtesy of LPC

Sayres Ave rowhouses, Courtesy of LPC
We are proud to announce the designation of Queens' 10th Historic District, known as the Addisleigh Park Historic District in St. Albans, which preserves 422 homes & natural landscapes. Addisleigh Park was calendared by the Landmarks Preservation Commission on February 9, 2010, and heard on March 23, 2010. On February 1, 2011, nearly 5 years of surveying and advocacy by the Addisleigh Park Civic Association, Historic Districts Council, and help from preservation grants, CM Leroy Comrie, residents, Historians Maxine Gordan &Jane Cowan, & the Addisleigh Park Historic District came to fruition, when it was designated unanimously by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, in addition to 4 Individual Landmarks in Staten Island's Sandy Ground section. The timing of the designation commemorates Black History Month, and will preserve a fine collection of architectural and cultural landmarks for neighborhood residents and preservationists citywide for future generations. This marks the city's Historic District #102. 

In the 1940s, prominent African American 20th-century figures including jazz musicians and sports champions began to make their home in Addisleigh Park. If you took a leisurely walk, you may have crossed paths with legends including Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Jackie Robinson, Percy Sutton, Milt Hinton, Roy Campanella, Illinois Jacquet, Lena Horne, W.E.B. DuBois, James Brown, Thomas "Fats" Waller, and Joe Louis. 

The area consists of Tudor and Colonial Revival, and Arts & Crafts freestanding homes with neatly landscaped lawns and mature tree-lined streets, rowhouses, the St. Albans Park, and places of worship. It is hard to grasp that homes were only available to whites when a number of properties were first developed circa 1910 - 1930s. This relates to the unrevised Forest Hills Gardens' Restrictive Covenants, which initially banned Jews and African Americans.

The collection of 10 designated Historic Districts in Queens, serves as a case study of potential Historic Districts in Forest Hills, Rego Park, and other deserving Queens neighborhoods. These are Queens designation reports to date:

For more information on the history, architecture, and clever urban planning of the must-visit Addisleigh Park Historic District, check out the LPC's press release announcing the new designation:

This is a PowerPoint presentation from the LPC's Public Hearing, featuring a smorgasbord of historic homes, notables, and a proposed boundary map:

The LPC's 374-page Designation Report: 

A history courtesy of the Addisleigh Park Civic Association:

115-14 179th St, Courtesy of LPC

173-07 Murdock Ave, Courtesy of LPC

174-11 Murdock Ave to 113-10 175th St, Courtesy of LPC

176-15 Murdock Ave, Courtesy of LPC

The Count Basie House, 174-27 Adelaide Rd, Courtesy of LPC

114-37 178th Place, Courtesy of LPC

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Landmarks At City Council: New Service Launched To Keep An Eye & Comment Publicly

I am writing to you to let you know about a brand-new service my office is starting to help keep those interested in Landmarks designation informed about the City Council portion of the process.

As you know, the City Council reviews the designation of Landmarks and Historic Districts after their review by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The hearings for these items are held in the City Council’s Land Use Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses, which I chair.

We would like to help keep interested members of the public informed about the agenda of the committee and opportunities to comment publicly. 

You and others who are interested can sign up for an email that will give you the agenda of the subcommittee when it is available here:

Emails will be typically sent a few days before the hearing is held, as the agenda becomes publicly available. You can choose which boroughs you are interested in hearing about and will receive an email with the full agenda when there is an item in your borough(s) of interest.

Please help us spread the word about this helpful new tool for those interested in the work of the Council’s Landmark Subcommittee:

If you have any questions, please contact Michael Freedman-Schnapp, Director of Policy for my office at (212) 788-6969 or

Thank you,

- Brad Lander
New York City Councilmember, 39th District
Chair, Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Uses