E-BULLETIN: Greek Revival House and a colonial-era cemetery subject to development


May 2012, Volume 9, Number 3


Help Preserve Where 19th-century New Yorkers Lived

& 18th-century New Yorkers Rest!


Of course, HDC loves all of New York City’s landmarks, but the 1832 Merchant’s House on East 4th Street in Manhattan is particularly close to our heart. With a new proposal to construct a 9-story hotel next door, the Greek Revival treasure may be at risk. We’re not disputing the right of the developer to build a new building there, but we share  the Merchant’s House Museum’s extreme concern about the possible structural issues neighboring excavation could create. The building is sitting on a loose-fill foundation which could be easily undermined if not approached VERY carefully. HDC supports the museum’s call to postpone consideration of the project until an independent engineering study is performed to assess the potential impact on the Individual Landmark. Please help us by signing their petition. You can also express your concern in person at the Community Board 2 hearing Monday, May 14th, 6:30 pm, at Church of Our Lady Of Pompeii, 25 Carmine Street, Father Demo Hall


In Fresh Meadows, Queens, the colonial-era Brinckerhoff family cemetery is also in grave danger.  The Landmarks Preservation Commission held a public hearing for landmarking the site in 2000, but never voted.  A second hearing is scheduled this coming Tuesday with the owner hoping to get a “no” vote from the commissioners.  Removing the property from LPC’s consideration is the developer’s first step towards constructing two new houses on this lot (yes, it’s not just in movies that people try to do that sort of thing). The cemetery, which includes burials from 1730 into the 1860s and was once part of a large farm, now sits in the middle of an early 20th-century residential neighborhood.  While the present owner claims neither headstones nor bodies still exist in the overgrown lot, both statements are hard to believe. A survey and newspaper articles from the early part of the last century point to over 70 burials and numerous grave markers, including the 1740 headstone of Aeltje Brinckerhoff inscribed in Dutch.   Neighbors remember seeing the stones and report that they were told by the prior owner in 1980 that he had buried the markers to protect them. Similarly, there is no documentation regarding any removal of remains. Archaeologists and cemetery experts tell us what HDC already suspected – while the wood of old coffins may no longer exist, hardware, bones and personal items such as jewelry and shoe buckles would still be there.  Please join HDC, the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association, elected officials, historical societies and other preservationists at the LPC Public Hearing on Tuesday, May 15th at 9:00 am (Municipal Building, 1 Centre Street, 9th Floor, Manhattan) or send your comments to LPC Chair Robert Tierney to show your support for landmarking a rare remnant of colonial Queens.

Read the NYDaily News article about the Brinckerhoff family cemetery on our website 


~Six to Celebrate Tour Series~

It’s Bike Month; celebrate by signing up for our upcoming bike tour of Bay Ridge,Brooklyn!!!!

Saturday, June 2, 10am

BICYCLE TOUR led by Victoria Hofmo, founder of the Bay Ridge Conservancy


Visit Bay Ridge, a quintessentially New York neighborhood filled with a variety of historic housing, well-maintained parks, vibrant commercial streets and impressive institutional buildings. As we ride along Shore Road and the bicycle path, the tour will focus on some of the open spaces and significant sites along the area closest to the waterfront including Bliss Park, the Barkaloo Cemetery, the Narrows Botanic Garden, the Arts & Crafts style Gingerbread House, the former site of the New York Crescent Club & Polo Grounds, the cul-de-sac block Colonial Gardens and the Greek Revival-style Bennett-Farrell House. The day will end with a tour of the military site, Fort Hamilton, an active base with numerous historic structures, founded in 1825. Bikes will not be provided.  Tickets can be purchased here.


Saturday, July 14, 10:30am

Far Rockaway Beachside Bungalows, Queens

WALKING TOUR led by Nancy Solomon, folklorist and executive director of Long Island Traditions


Saturday, September 15, 11am

Victorian Flatbush, Brooklyn

BICYCLE TOUR led by Nicole Francis, Beverly Square East Neighborhood Association


Saturday, September 22, 12pm

Port Morris Gantries, Bronx

BICYCLE TOUR led by Harry J. Bubbins, director of Friends of Brook Park


Six to Celebrate is generously supported by The New York Community Trust.

Additional support for the Six to Celebrate Tours is provided by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and from New York City Councilmembers Inez Dickens, Daniel Garodnick, Vincent Gentile, Stephen Levin and Rosie Mendez.


Monday, June 11, 6:30pm

Film Screening and Discussion: The Bungalows of Rockaway

Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue at East 2nd Street, Manhattan

After a sold-out screening of the film’s excerpts in 2008, HDC brings back the popular 2010 documentary film, “The Bungalows of Rockaway,” produced by Jennifer Callahan and Elizabeth Logan Harris. The film highlights the rich history of the Rockaway bungalows, lasting more than 100 years. Although by 1933 there were more than 7,000 bungalows dotting the peninsula, fewer than 500 remain today. The documentary, narrated by Oscar-winner Estelle Parsons, features rare archival footage, maps, and interviews with historians, prominent New Yorkers, and several of the longtime residents and vacationers. Chosen as a Critic’s Pick by Time Out New York.

In 2012, HDC named the Far Rockaway Beach Bungalows to its Six to Celebrate list, six historic New York City neighborhoods that merit preservation as priorities for HDC’s advocacy and consultation over a yearlong period. HDC is working with the Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association to get the remaining bungalows of Beach 24th, 25th and 26th Streets on the State and National Registers of Historic Places and to raise awareness about this irreplaceable part of New York City’s history.

The screening will be followed by a “Q & A” session and discussion with Richard George, executive director of the Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association; Nancy Solomon, director of Long Island Traditions and author of the upcoming National Register nomination; Jeanne DuPont of Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, and the filmmakers. UPDATE: David Selig of Rockaway Taco will also participate in the panel. The program will be moderated by journalist Eve M. Kahn.

Admission is $10 for the general public, $5 for Friends of HDC, seniors and students. A limited number of complimentary tickets will be available to Far Rockaway residents. Email ftolbert@hdc.org for more information.

To purchase tickets or for more information, visit our website or call 212-614-9107.


Free Lecture!

St. John’s Church and New Construction in Historic Districts Today

A lecture by Stephen F. Byrns


St. John’s Getty Square was originally a 1751 Georgian manorial church in downtown Yonkers.  In 1871, it became one of the first examples of historic preservation in America, with a magnificent enlargement by William Appleton Potter.  It is also one of the first instances of the Colonial Revival in the nation. Byrns will draw upon his experience as an LPC Commissioner by discussing various recent examples of projects approved or disapproved by the LPC, and compare them to the changes at St. John’s over a period of 120 years.


Stephen F. Byrns is a partner at BKSK Architects and was a Landmarks Preservation Commissioner from 2004-10. He majored in History at Princeton University, where he wrote his thesis on William Butterfield.


May 30, 2012 6-8pm

Neighborhood Preservation Center

232 East 11th Street, Manhattan

Admission is FREE. RSVP to hdc@hdc.org or 212-614-9107.

Advance reservations are required and space is limited.



Partners in Preservation

Partners in Preservation is a community-based program which provides preservation grants for local historic places. American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have joined together and are giving away three million dollars to worthy New York City organizations. You can vote once a day everyday through May 21. This weekend all 40 sites will be participating in an Open House weekend–free and discounted events (like a behind the scenes tour of Ellis Island, free concerts, architectural tours and much more).

Learn more at http://partnersinpreservation.com/



~Donate to HDC~

Become a Friend of HDC today and receive special discounts on our exciting and informational events. By donating you are aiding in the fight to preserve New York history. HDC is the only organization that works with communities in all five boroughs. That’s a lot of buildings! http://hdc.org/donate.



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The Advocate for New York City’s Historic Neighborhoods

232 East 11th Street New York NY 10003

tel: 212-614-9107 fax: 212-614-9127 email: hdc@hdc.org



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The Historic Districts Council (HDC) is the advocate for all of New York City's historic neighborhoods. HDC is the only organization in New York that works directly with people who care about our city's historic neighborhoods and buildings. We represent a constituency of over 500 local community organizations.

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