Widespread support for proposed Queens district

Ridgewood North Historic District. Image: LPC.

Early 20th-century development in Ridgewood served as home to German community. On December 16, 2008, Landmarks held a hearing on the potential designation of a historic district in Ridgewood, Queens. The district would encompass 91 buildings built between 1908 and 1911 by developer Gustave Mathews and local architect Louis Allmendinger. Constructed by local craftsmen, the Renaissance and Romanesque Revival four-story apartment buildings, which characterize the district, feature yellow brick facades, ornamental metal cornices, and decorative brick work. Many of the buildings retain their original cut-glass door and wrought-iron railings on the stoops.

The development, in its early years, primarily housed German immigrants. Many of the residents worked in skilled trades, and moving to Ridgewood constituted an upward progression from the tenements of the Lower East Side and Brooklyn. Previously farmland, the neighborhood became accessible through trolley lines and, later on, the elevated train. At the time of their construction, Ridgewood apartment buildings, with their large air wells and high-quality construction, embodied a higher standard for working class housing. Landmarks’ research department noted that the caliber of materials and workmanship “attest to the excellent architectural integrity of these buildings nearly a century later.”

Speakers supporting the project included Council Member-elect Elizabeth Crowley, who praised the buildings as unique and possessing “a tremendous amount of integrity.” Paul Kezner, of the Ridgewood Property Owners’ Association, testified that he “wholeheartedly” supported designation, and spoke of the history of the district, including the German beer barons who owned the nearby Schaefer and Rheingold breweries and their employees who lived in Ridgewood. The Historic District Council’s Simeon Bankoff voiced support for designation, but suggested that the district’s boundaries be extended, noting that approximately 3,000 units in the area, as a whole, created “a truly distinct sense of place.” Council Member Diane Reyna also sent a letter in support of designation.

Landmarks has not set a date for Commissioner discussion or vote.

LPC: Ridgewood North Historic District, Queens (LP-2319) (Dec. 16, 2008).


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