Wednesday, January 18, 2012

On The Record with Michael Perlman, Chair of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

Queens Ledger
Published January 18, 2012
By Heather Senison
On The Record with Michael Perlman

Michael Perlman devotes his time to preserving relics in the Rego Park/Forest Hills area, hoping to keep its history alive. Perlman is chair of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council and vice president of the Queens chapter of the Four Borough Preservation Alliance Corporation, in addition to several other historical and civic groups.

Perlman’s grandparents moved to Forest Hills in 1952. He graduated from the LaGuardia High School for Music and Performing Arts in Manhattan in 2000, and went on to get his Bachelor’s degree as a Communication Arts major from Marymount Manhattan.

His interest in preservation, he said, sparked in 2005 when he witnessed the demolition of parts of the Trylon Theater on Queens Boulevard.“I witnessed a demolition crew taking some jackhammers and breaking beautiful mosaic artwork from the 1939 World’s Fair,” Perlman said. “I was surprised that something so significant and beautiful wasn’t already landmarked.” In response, Perlman formed a committee to push for landmark status for the theater. The Trylon Theater's landmark application was denied, but much of the building's original decor is still in tact.

Next, Perlman founded the Rego-Forest Preservation Council in 2006, on Forest Hills’ 100th anniversary. The council focuses on projects such as getting the Trylon Theater landmarked and restoring the West Side Tennis Club stadium.

“We wanted to take a proactive approach and research historical sites, make community residents and visitors more aware of their architectural and cultural history,” Perlman said. “We wanted to teach property owners how they can work with us and other organizations to fund restoration works.”

He started researching the history behind the West Side stadium in 2010. What to make of the deteriorating 2.5-acre stadium is currently under discussion by the Club.

Along with the stadium’s architectural uniqueness, Perlman said cultural barriers were crossed when Grand Slam-winner Althea Gibson, the first African American woman to compete on the world tennis tour in the 1950s, and Arthur Ashe, a black man played there as well.

“I didn’t want West Side Tennis Club members to vote for a typical condo in place of a historical stadium where many legends were born,” he said.

Perlman said the stadium was declared eligible for the State and National Register of Historic Places on January 5 which, if members vote in favor, would allow the Club and any future partnership to apply for funds to restore it. The council is currently in talks with the Club to set up a meeting, he said.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

To A Happy 2012... But Not Without Glimpses of Forest Hills A Century Ago

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my Rego-Forest Preservation Council members & friends, friends' friends, & their families!!! Oops, I am 100 years too early......

Let's countdown to 2012, a year of health, happiness, and advocacy for the historic preservation & conservation of Rego Park, Forest Hills, and adjacent neighborhoods, and the hopes of many history-related events and a tree giveaway to come.

 These photos are on display at Nick's Pizza at 108-26 Ascan Ave, & capture the feel of Forest Hills in the early 20th century... A window to our past! Thankfully, our fine craftsmanship and green landscapes have not changed much in some sections of our neighborhood.

An audience of children pose in a public space in Forest Hills, presumably in the auditorium of Public School 3. Note the early 20th century fashions.

A classic out front of "small town feel" rowhouses

The residents of Forest Hills were fortunate to have a trolley line among the dirt roads of Queens Blvd. Hop on & journey back in time!

Snowy Queens Blvd when it was less civilized, & offered a field perspective towards the Forest Hills Inn of the Forest Hills Gardens.

Based in the Cord Meyer Section, Public School No. 3 was Forest Hills' 1st elementary school, & today it is known as PS 303. It was also known as the Little Red Schoolhouse.

East side of Continental Ave towards Austin St & Queens Blvd. Spotlight on the Forest Hills Theatre, which was our first theater, which witnessed silent films & the advent of talkies. This early 20's theater had an organ too! Today it is more predictable as Duane Reade & Staples. In the foreground is a wood & brick Tudor style business building. It was one of the first buildings to grace Austin St, circa 1910. It housed Garcia Grande Cigars & Sporting Goods in this image.
The Continental Garage & Service Station was conveniently situated just west of Continental Ave, serving motorists on Queens Blvd. It housed a Texaco shop. Note how garages & gas stations were embellished in Colonial design, & how the medians of Queens Blvd had tasteful stonework. Lane Towers sits at this site today.

Pennsylvania Drug Company was a famous community pharmacy which offered a soda fountain, a commonality of the times. Note the Tudor feel of what was called Forest Hills Village, at the foot of the south side of Queens Blvd & Continental Ave. Today, the building on the right proudly stands, but sadly the charmer on the left is now home to the mundane black glass Cord Meyer office tower.
1 Continental Avenue Building, a Tudor commercial & residential gem at the entryway to what was known as Forest Hills Village, on the SW corner of Continental Ave & Queens Blvd in 1936.

Forest Hills Inn at Station Square, Forest Hills Gardens. Celebrities & tourists would stay at the Inn, which could conveniently be accessed by the classic Pennsylvania Station. Many postcards and ads boasted that it was 15 mins to Manhattan. The Davis Cup, Wightman Cup, & US Open were played at the nearby Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, which boosted profits at the Inn. Today the Forest Hills Inn houses apartments.

Sage Foundation Home Company truck - In the teens, it was praised how admirable a planned community, the Forest Hills Gardens (1909) becomes, when it's designed on the principles of an architect and a gardener working in harmony.

Greenway Terrace, Forest Hills Gardens
East side of Continental Ave between Austin St & Burns St. On the left is the 20s era Corn Exchange Bank, & the right is a route to the Forest Hills LIRR train station, based in the Forest Hills Gardens.
Man & his best friend in a Forest Hills park