Sometimes history can be couched in the mundane. There’s a little slant-roofed building at the right angle formed by Myrtle and Jamaica avenues in Richmond Hill, decked with aluminum siding and an array of changing businesses on the ground floor. A closer look reveals some window panes with a “THB” monogram, and several carvings of laughing gnomes at entrances on the Jamaica Avenue side.
It turns out that almost as long as there’s been a Richmond Hill, there’s been a Triangle Hotel. It was built by Charles Paulson in 1868 and was originally rented out as a grocery and post office. By 1893, the building, by then owned by John Kerz and operating as a hotel, included an eatery named the Wheelman’s Restaurant in honor of the new bicycling craze. After some time it became known as the Triangle Hofbrau, hence the monogram.
According to the Richmond Hill Historical Society, Babe Ruth (who was a golf enthusiast in nearby St. Albans) and Mae West were patrons of the Triangle Hofbrau in the 1920s. Vaudeville-era pianist and composer Ernest Ball (1878-1927) wrote the music for the now-standard “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” in one of the hotel’s guest rooms in 1912.
Kevin Walsh’s website is Forgotten New York