The neighborhood in southern Queens named St. Albans was mostly farmland (note the name of one of its prominent streets, Farmers Boulevard) until the 1890s, when a small community began to take shape around Farmers and Linden Boulevards. The town was named by its first 100 residents for Britain’s first Christian martyr. The area was home to the St. Albans Golf Course from 1915 to the Depression; sports luminaries such as Babe Ruth honed their strokes there. The old golf course is now St. Albans Veterans Administration Extended Care Center and Roy Wilkins Park.
Roy Wilkins Park sits on property that formerly was occupied by the St. Albans Naval Hospital. After the hospital closed in 1974 the U.S. Government allocated the 100-acre site to the Veterans Administration, which built a veterans’ extended care center on the east end of the property and ceded the western half to the city of New York in 1977 for use as a park. It remained mostly undeveloped until 1982, when $3.3 million was allocated for its redevelopment. One of the hospital buildings was renovated and reopened as the Roy Wilkins Family Center in 1986, which includes an Olympic-size pool equipped to accommodate the disabled, comfort stations, a tot play area, picnic tables, tennis, basketball, and handball courts, baseball fields, and a jogging path. The facility also hosts a summer day camp for 300 children, after-school programs, a counseling center, and a variety of community events.
Roy Wilkins (1901-1981) was a Missouri-born, Minnesota raised journalist and civil rights advocate. After a stint with the Kansas City Call, he joined the NAACP in 1831 and served as the organization’s president from 1955 to 1977, promoting voter registration, fair housing laws and wage equity.