The growing neighborhood of Elmhurst needed a new high school by the beginning of the 20th century, as improved transportation and an expanding population was growing the town by leaps and bounds. Dr. James Darius Dillingham, the principal of the Newtown School, had been a tireless advocate for his school, back when the old town of Newtown had changed its name to Elmhurst, and was still an independent entity, not yet a part of Greater New York City. He had pressured the city fathers of Elmhurst to build a larger school, and after a great deal of lobbying on his part, in 1897, the town had finally approved funds to expand the town’s wooden school house, and add a new bricks and mortar school. The early history of the area and the school can be found in Part One of this story.
By the time this new addition was finished, in 1900, Elmhurst and its school were part of Greater New York City, and under the direction of the New York City Board of Education. The school was soon woefully inadequate to handle the number of children in Elmhurst, and the Board of Ed moved the elementary school out, and made the Newtown School a high school. But, as Dr. Dillingham told the city, it was still too small. He wanted to expand it even more, as he could see that the 20th century need for education was going to overwhelm the school.
The local town board did not have his vision. In fact, they wanted to close the high school because they thought Newtown didn’t need one, but the good doctor persisted in asking for funds. He was soon proved correct, as by the end of the decade, the school was bursting with students, forcing teachers to conduct classes in cloak rooms and hallways. They even had to borrow space from the local elementary school. The City allocated $400,000 in funds, and turned the task over to C.B.J. Snyder, the Superintendent of School Buildings for the Board of Education. Dr. Dillingham and Newtown High School were in luck, as he was one of the greats. (more…)
When you come right down to it, a school is any place where learning can occur. It’s not necessary to have the biggest, most beautiful school building around to make for a good school, but it doesn’t hurt either. Back when these things seem to matter more than they do now, city officials went out of their way to spend their money on civic buildings that not only performed their necessary functions, but enriched the lives of the citizenry. The City Beautiful Movement of the turn of the 20th century codified this idea, believing, however naively, that impressive civic architecture, especially classically inspired buildings, would inspire the immigrant and lower class masses to greater industry, personal pride, and thrift. Buildings like the Brooklyn Museum, the Municipal Building in Manhattan, and even the Beaux-Arts entrance to the Manhattan Bridge on Canal Street, all are a part of that philosophy.
It seems rather absurd today to think that architecture could cure poverty’s ills, but they did have a point about inspiration. A great city is measured in part by its architecture. And what resident of any city would not be proud to point out to visitors the fine museums, homes, houses of worship, municipal buildings, and schools, and say with pride, “This is my city?” All of which brings us to today’s great building, the Newtown High School. (more…)
In doing my historic research of our fair city, it always amazes me to find out that some of this city’s oldest buildings are not in Manhattan or Brooklyn, as might be imagined, but in Queens. I guess being a long-time Brooklynite has skewed my view, and I’m happy to report I’m learning quite a bit about early Queens’s history by writing this column.
Today’s piece of Queens’ history is the St. James Episcopal Church at 86-02 Broadway, in Elmhurst. When it was built in 1735, it was officially the “Church of England in America, Mission Church at Newtowne.” This building is the oldest surviving mission church of the Church of England in all of New York City. It’s an important visual reminder of English Colonial America, and a fine example of early 18th century vernacular sacred architecture. Translation – it’s a cool old church. (more…)
Newish building 40-07 73rd Street, which is arguably in either Elmhurst, Woodside, or Jackson Heights, just hit public records for the big price of $20,000,000. The buyers just listed the building as a rental, known as the Roosevelt, a few weeks ago. Two-bedroom and three-bedroom units are still available from $2,200 to $3,600 a month. (Word is that the leasing is going well.) Before the building sold, it was marketed as a condo to little success.
Citi Habitats just began leasing 40-07 73rd Street, the 31-unit rental building in Elmhurst with a previous life as a condo development. Convertible two bedrooms start at $2,400 a month, two bedrooms at $2,400 and three bedrooms at $3,600. All units feature floor to ceiling windows, two full bathrooms, private outdoor space and chef’s kitchens. Citi Habitats is also offering a month free on a 12 month lease. The building, previously known as the Bravo Condominium, is now called The Roosevelt.
Here’s big news for the lonely-looking Bravo Condominium building, at 40-07 73rd Street off of Roosevelt Avenue. The development is in contract and Citi Habitats plans to relaunching it as a rental later this month with the new name “The Roosevelt.” There are 31 units in total, mostly two bedrooms. The units feature floor to ceiling windows, two full bathrooms, and private outdoor space. Prices will start at $2,400 a month. The development initially launched as a condo but never picked up traction. Let’s see if rentals work better. The soft opening is planned for October 16th, stay tuned for listings.
On your marks… Get set… Eat! The tenth annual Queens Restaurant Week 2013 will run from September 30th to October 3rd and October 7th to October 10th with more than 60 eateries participating. A three-course, prix fixe dinner for $28 and lunch for $14 are the general parameters for the promotion, although some establishments will also offer wine or some other items, and many restaurants will continue their specials beyond October 10th. As to be expected in the world’s most diverse county, the cuisine options are boundless. Participating restaurants include Ben’s Best (Kosher, Rego Park), Christos (Astoria, steakhouse with Greek influence), Dazies (Sunnyside, Italian), Haveli (Forest Hills, Indian), Roka (Richmond Hill, Turkish), Tequila Sunrise (Bayside, Mexican) and Uncle Peter’s (Jackson Heights, pan-European).
A 115-unit apartment building is in the works for the corner of Reeder Street and Queens Boulvard in Elmhurst. The site is right across from the new rental building known as The Elm as well as the Grand Avenue/Newtown R stop. DOB documents state that the building will include 27,801 square feet of commercial space, 26,273 square feet of community space, and 93,940 square feet of residential space. It’ll rise seven stories tall. The DOB disapproved a building plan earlier this summer and has not yet issued permits. We’ll letcha know when they do… GMAP
Here’s a look at the construction progress on the new Elmhurst Library, at 86-01 Broadway. This renovation is part of the city’s shift “to transform… libraries into community destinations,” according to a Queens Courier piece last year, when construction first started. The new Elmhurst Library, which is expected to open in 2014, will be a total of 30,000 square feet, roughly double the size of the old library. The new four-story building will feature separate library areas for adults, children and teens, a 32-computer Cyber Center, an Adult Learning Center, an interior reading atrium, and front and rear community gardens. While construction moves along, the city is operating a temporary library at 85-08 51st Avenue, off Broadway. Check out another construction shot after the jump, as well as a rendering of the final product.