On the west side just south of 39th Avenue, we find the venerable fish-scale mansard roofed John William Ahles House (built in 1873).
According to longtime Bayside historian Joan Brown Wettingfeld, in 1873, Robert Bell, nephew of Abraham Bell, a local landowner for whom Bell Boulevard is named, built this house for his daughter, Lillie and her husband, John Ahles as a wedding gift on “Ahles Road” (now known as 41st Avenue). This road ran then from 208th Street to present day Bell Boulevard. Old maps show a portion of 41st Avenue as Ahles Road as late as 1941.
The naming of Ahles Road was no accident, for the road supervisor at the time was Abraham Bell II, and John William Ahles married Robert Bell’s daughter, Lillie, in June of 1873.
Known for his integrity and business acumen, John William Ahles died in 1915 after amassing a large fortune.
The old Bayside Theatre on the NE corner of Bell Boulevard and 39th Avenue opened in 1927 (as the Capitol Theatre) and was designed by prolific theatre house architect Thomas Lamb. According to cinematreasures commenters, it was closed during much of the Depression, but reopened in 1941.
After the break, the audience will listen — and sing along — to Christmas favorites such as “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Il est né le divin enfant,” a traditional French carol by John Rutter, and “Gesù Bambino,” which Italian organist Pietro Yon allegedly wrote while riding an NYC subway. There will also be a rollicking version of the Caribbean ditty “The Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy.”
The second half will also feature Jewish songs such as “Ocho Kandelikas,” a Ladino tune which celebrates Chanukah and its story of hope and redemption, and “The Lamp kept burnin’ on” by Long Island composer Linda Tsuruoka. Guest cantor Jerry Korobow will play guitar and lead the chorus and orchestra in a lively and spirited “Al HaNissim.” All the details are on jump…
Fort Totten, the historic Bayside park with more than 100 structures built between 1829 and the 1960s, is in need of some TLC. Queens Courier spoke with the Bayside Historical Society who has narrowed in on several historic buildings sitting vacant in the park, in serious need of repair. One structure in particular is the Willets Farmhouse. Built in 1829, it’s the oldest building in the area. The Parks Department stabilized it in 2013 but has since fenced off the area, cutting off any access to the building.
The Parks Department plans to embark on a $2,100,000 restoration project next year, which will restore the roofs of the historic Chapel and Commander’s House. The concern is that the buildings won’t last through this winter, and that the restoration doesn’t address all the structures that need repairs. “We would like to see them all being used so they’re not lost to history,” said Paul DiBenedetto, President of the historic society. “I see the realism of it but I don’t like the fact they abandoned these buildings.”
Most people are not aware that New York City had a ring of forts built around its ports and harbor to protect the city from invaders. After the War of 1812, no invader ever managed to attack our city by sea, but the forts remained, nonetheless. They are among our most interesting historic sites, but we rarely hear about them, unless one is threatened by something worse than foreign invaders, and that’s an attack by the bloodthirsty pens of budget cutters.
Many of these forts were quite extensive in their day, housing men, armaments and supplies. But over the years, as they’ve been decommissioned and scaled down, most of them now are only a fraction of their original selves, leaving perhaps one or two buildings intact, if that. Fort Totten is different, and that makes it one of New York City’s most fascinating ex-military sites. (more…)
The Landmarks Preservation Commission has landmarked the Hawthorne Court Apartments, located at the corner of 216th Street and 43rd Avenue in Bayside. According to the Daily News, the Bayside Historical Society launched a campaign to protect the Tudor Revival style complex, which was built between 1930 and 1931. Here’s what Meenakshi Srinivasan, chairwoman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, had to say about the designation: “This charming and ornate complex is a fine example of the Tudor Revival style, and provides a critical narrative of Bayside’s transformation to a commuter suburb after the completion of the railroad tunnel to Manhattan in 1910.”
You can read the LPC’s full historical writeup of the Hawthorne Court Apartments after the jump…
This month, the Aperitif Bistro Lounge Wine Bar opened at 213-41 39th Avenue, in Bayside. (It’s the former location of Bentley’s Off Bell, which is predictably located right off Bell Bouelvard.) This is the second location of the restaurant; the first is located in Long Island. The menu focuses on “French cuisine infused with a Mediterranean and Asian flair,” with dishes like tuna and steak tartare, scallops and shrimp with sautéed leeks, steak frites and a seared duck breast. Here’s the menu for the Long Island location, where entrees run from $21 to $34.
The two-floor restaurant seats 148 and includes a bar and lounge area. Right now, Aperitif serves dinner daily and will start serving lunch and brunch in the next few weeks. The current hours are Monday through Thursday, 5 to 10 pm and Friday and Saturday, 5 to 11 pm.
Check out two more interior shots after the jump — the space looks great. GMAP
Calling old home lovers! We found this house in Bayside Hills through Old Homes Queens. It’s a single family with three beds and three baths that’s just oozing with potential. The interior’s decked out with lots of gorgeous wood detailing, fireplaces and exposed ceiling beams. But it’s still going to need some work; areas like the kitchen and bedrooms look downright outdated. This could be a real stunner with a little TLC. The asking price comes in at $888,000.
Today’s Listing of the Day hails all the way from Bayside Hills. We’re quite smitten with that unique Tudor facade — how cute! There aren’t many photos of the interior, but we do spot some nice details like hardwood floors and a fireplace. The driveway, garage and front yard lend a nice suburban vibe as well. For 1,600 square feet of living space on a 4,000-square-foot lot? The ask is $899,000, rather high if you ask us.
Oakland Lake, at 46th Avenue and Cloverdale Boulevard, is the largest of a number of small “kettle ponds” left over from the passage of a glacier that stopped its southern progress in the middle of Long Island 15,000 years ago. According to the NYC Parks Department, it was once thought to be fully 600 feet deep, but the lake bottom was found to be just 20 feet in 1969. Similar to what was done with Kissena Lake, Oakland Lake was surrounded with a concrete lining and “citified” in the 1930s. After lean years in which the lake’s condition deteriorated, a revitalization effort was spearheaded by local resident Gertrude Waldeyer, whose Oakland Lake and Ravine Conservation Committee raised $1,000,000 to restore the lake to its natural state. It is now home to catfish, sunfish and carp. Oakland Lake has taken its place, along with other Alley Pond lakes such as Potamogeton Pond, Turtle Pond, Decodon Pond, Lily Pad Pond and Muskrat Pond as small glimpses of real wetland in the big city.