Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Richmond Ice Co.

So I've driven past this building perhaps a million times (no kidding) and I've never noticed it's name or the very cool crumbling cement objects adorning its top. My mother-in-law told me about and that she'd called the Staten Island Museum to let them know they were eroding and in need of preservation or something. Here they are then; the walruses of the long deceased Richmond Ice Co.


Once the existing concrete structure was part of a larger complex presumably serving Richmond County's many ice needs.

Unfortunately the building is now marked with the dreaded FDNY "do not save in case of a fire" X in box symbol

Too Much Cuteness in One Place

is one of the most over the top cute pages I've ever seen. It's also really cool. So there, a present to you all.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Past in Snow and Ice

Here's a lovely stolen set of photos of the falls in Clove Lakes Park in the winter about 1910.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Just Some Quick Then and Now Stapleton Shots

Stapleton was the neighborhood I grew up in and still have a great affinity for even if there's little reason for me to spend much time there anymore. When I was a kid I lived in the library and we regularly shopped in the numerous stores around Tappen Park and along Broad Street up to Targee Street. There was the "Store of a Million Items" and "John's Bargain Store". There was "Wright Toy and Hobby" on Wright
Street and a Chinese restaurant on the second floor of the building next to "Woolworths" (which itself had a great luncheon counter where I always got a filet of fish sandwich without tartar sauce).

Woolworths vs. OZ - Woolworth's closed its American stores in 1997 ending an era of five and dime stores that dated to 1878. I bought so many books, models and other stuff there right up until the end. There were those kids rides where for a quarter a horse or firetruck bounces around sort of aimlessly and gumball machines.

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Later my mother started her long career of community activism in Stapleton with first "The Friends of Stapleton Library" and then the "Stapleton Civic Association" She and the equally late Helen Pose worked hard and often thanklessly to try and stave off the economic death of their town and get the merchants and residents to pitch in.

In 1979 or so she founded the "Stapleton Local Development Corporation", got grant money and got herself and three staffers paid to do the same things on a full time basis. For four years she worked hard at it only to get pushed out by a the head of the board of directors who put his girlfriend in my mom's place. Within a few years that woman messed things up and there were questions of impropriety and badly managed funds. Later directors (as my mother had moved on to way too many other things and the merchants of Stapleton had proven unwilling to make any real efforts to save their community) were better but the group eventually fell moribund and was absorbed into the still vibrant St. George/Tompkinsville LDC.

The only real testimony to the efforts of my mothers and the other "community organizers" of Stapleton back in the seventies and eighties is the beautifully designed brick sidewalks and gazebo at Tappen Park. Recently the park was renovated by the NYC Park's Department but there's none of the foot traffic of the past or the huge fall festivals and flea markets my mother and friends organized and held up through the mid-eighties.

Gazebo and Sidewalks - The beautiful building in the background is the remaining one of two village halls built as local municipal centers. It housed my mother's LDC and Community Board One and several other groups until the District Attorney's office took it over eleven or so years ago. They wanted to be closer to the court house and the public was deprived of a beautiful historic building.

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Chase Bank - This is where my family banked once we moved to Stapleton in 1969

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Staten Island Savings Bank (or whatever it's called these days) - I never went inside this magnificent classically styled building until a few years ago. You should do so and marvel at its beautiful interior and the sanctity and security of banking it was intended to convey.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My Neck of the Woods

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Second to the right from the corner: the Vredenburgh Manse

We live along Prospect Avenue in New Brighton near the border, Lafayette Avenue, with West New Brighton (neighborhood of my previously shown family estate). Much of the surrounding neighborhood was built as one of the first commuter neighborhoods for businessmen working in the salt mines of the Wall Street environs. Initially the area was called Brighton Park but it was renamed Hamilton Park by its developer Charles Hamilton. Lining much of Franklin Avenue, Pendleton Place and the surrounding hills are large Victorian era homes. Several have been entered into the national registry of historical homes.

Dominating the neighborhood is the magnificent edifice of Christ Episcopal Church, err, just Christ Church. I need to read more about the history of the church and its parishoners, but suffice it to say, they had money and they weren't hesitant about using it. I missed out on seeing the inside of the church this past Sunday when I skipped an ecumenical Vespers Advent service due to sleepiness but I hope to make it one day soon and report back on it for those who care.

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Over time the neighborhood changed. On the blocks around the initial upscale streets came to be built large multifamily homes and apartment buildings. There are still some wooden ones over on near Sailor Snug Harbor only a few blocks from the church.

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W.S. Pendleton House

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Hamilton Cottage

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Pritchard House - My Favorite House - Tucked away behind lush (or perhaps merely poorly maintained) hedges, this Italianate home sits high on the secluded hills of New Brighton.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Rest of Port Richmond's Churches

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St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church - Richmond Terrace
Seemingly the primary church of Port Richmond's large Mexican population.

View Larger Map Once it had a parish school. I don't have any recollection of it ever being in operation.

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St. Paul's/St. Luke's Lutheran Church - Decker and Catherine - Once the Wasa Lutheran Church, this Swedish congregation changed name over the years and merged with that of St. Paul's Lutheran when it closed in the early seventies. It's where my mother and her family went until she was married. I have her oft mended confirmation Bible on my shelf and one of my aunts is a very active member of this small congregation. It's suffered from the demographic shift of the North Shore like most of the mainline Protestant churches, especially the ones with a strong ethnic component.

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St. Roch's Roman Catholic Church - Port Richmond Avenue

View Larger Map Port Richmond Reformed Church - I've written about this before. It's the oldest congregation on the Island as far as I know. The original building was burned by the British and this one only dates from the eighteenth century. There are very cool seventeenth century headstones in the surrounding churchyard.

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Mar Thoma Church - Faber Street - This new addition to the churches of the neighborhood perfectly reflects the amazing, a pretty cool, changes in the demographics of Staten Island.

View Larger MapTemple Emanu-El - Post Avenue - I think this is the oldest Orthodox Temple on the Island. "The Jewish Community of Staten Island" has some great pictures of the congregation and it's temple. There's an attached school and a light up Star of David on the steeple.

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Faith United Methodist Church - Castleton and Heberton - Faith is one of the results of the Great Methodist Collapse I've mentioned earlier. It's the result of the closing of Kingsley Methodist, Delafield Methodist and their merging with Grace Methodist in Port Richmond located in this beautiful red brick building.

View Larger MapSt. John's Lutheran Church - Jewett Avenue - I don't know anything about this church. I did attend a wedding there 20 years ago but since my church is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and it's a member of the Missouri Synod, it's like the Bloods and Crips. Not very brotherly. It's a pretty red brick building that was once a Methodist church, I think (confirmation later) and has a pretty little cemetery attached.

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Today there are several storefront churches and assorted non-denominational churches in the immediate area. There's also a Pentecostal church and Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall nearby but for ease I'll say they're in Elm Park and save myself some work.

The Secret Churches

In my research I've discovered the existence of several defunct churches now in service as something else. Sometimes it's fairly obvious the structure used to be a church but sometimes it just looks like a house.

Norwegian Lutheran Free Church - Wardwell Avenue in Westerleigh

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I never even realized this places existence until my friend, Steve MacD. told me about an aunt who'd attended an evangelical Norwegian church in Westerleigh. Later I correlated this memory when going through the Davis and Leng Staten Island books at the CSI Staten Island Archives. Funnily enough, despite it's obvious previous history as a church, it never occurred to me all the times I drove past the building.

Kingsley Methodist Church - Cebra Avenue in Stapleton

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All I know is that was one of the great Methodist Calamity casualties in the late sixties. When I was a lad I was told it was owned by two "gentlemen artists", later the Mormons owned it. It was the center of the Mormoning activities which consisted primarily of sending out two tow-headed young men in white shirts and black ties to knock on doors. Later a Pentecostal congregation set up residence there and I don't know what the present owner plans to do with it. From the below old postcard you can see it once had the common four sided steeple I'm finding on many of the Island's old wooden Methodist churches. I've only recently realized how big the building actually is (50' by 85') and I imagine there are extensions in the back for offices and the like.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Churches of Port Richmond Park

View Larger Map Today: St. Mary's Syrian Orthodox Church

Port Richmond was once one of the two shining commercial areas on the North Shore. Up through the mid-seventies it remained an important shopping and residential district with beautiful stores and homes. Of course all this changed with the advent of Forest Avenue Shoppers Town and later the SI Mall. Eventually the better stores moved out or failed and slowly the neighborhood slipped into an economic downturn that it's never recovered from. As old timers moved out the neighborhood's poverty and crime levels increased. At some point things got even stranger when Port Richmond became the home for all the Mexican immigrants coming to work the lawns and kitchens of the borough.

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St. Mary of the Assumption's Chapel

Still, much of Port Richmond maintains at least a gloss of architectural beauty. Central to the old Port Richmond was the park between Heberton Avenue (part of which was nicknamed 'Doctors' Row') and the churches that surrounded it. Here are some now and then pictures.

View Larger Map Today: St. Philip's Baptist Church

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holiday Birds

This has been the Vredenburgh family's week of poultry. The luminous Mrs. V's mother was going to come to dinner this past week for her birthday. With all the holiday cheer already permeating the air, visions of Alastair Sim floating in on the breeze from an opened door I decided to cook a goose. "Joy of Cooking" didn't make it seem too hard.

Unfortunately the geese didn't come into the butcher's (Mezzogiorno on the corner of Davis and Castleton and I can't recommend it enough) on time and I couldn't pick it up myself. Mrs. V took on the role of goose acquirer and would have to prep its poor, pink carcass. Later she told me this involved the task of severing its elegant, muscular neck without the proper tools (a great big cleaver). By the time I got home it was becoming clear to her that goose that night was not going to happen.

Properly prepared, the goose needs to be scalded in boiling water and then left to sit uncovered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. I'm a novice in the kitchen and I want to do things right. So no goose that night.

But I'd already made the apple/sausage stuffing and my mother-in-law was still coming over. So I ran out and got a chicken, stuffed it and threw it in the oven. It was great but she settled for some leftover turkey barley soup. She had to leave before the chicken was cooked. Mrs. V and I ate it ourselves and managed several other meals off it.

Thursday, of course, was Thanksgiving and we had turkey prepared by Mrs. V's sister, Mrs. C. It was good, the sides were great and I made pies.

Finally, on Friday past, I cooked the goose. The scalding and sitting had leached much of the fat out and the three hours of cooking got rid of much of the rest. The result was more than satisfactory. There's already been several good meals off the goose with several more to come. It's a rich, dark meat with crispy skin. I don't see myself going through the process again soon (and it's pricier than I anticipated) but it was sure worth it.


So yesterday morning I woke up late after a fairly decent night's sleep. At the request of the always luminous Mrs. V I got dressed with the intention of going off and buying her coffee (we've run out) and getting the day's papers. I was unable to because I was greeted in the chill late morning sunlight by this sight -

Some person or persons unknown had put my car on rocks and removed and stolen all four tires and rims from our new Honda Fit Sport. I'm almost impressed by the stealthiness with which they conducted themselves.

I called the cops and when they arrived one of the officers exclaimed "Another?" They'd just come from the other end of our street where another Honda had been similarly denuded. It's insane.

GEICO's going to be taking care of everything (save the $500 deductible) tomorrow and I'll be slightly happier but still.....AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Greatest Country Ever

THIS is why we're the greatest country in the world.

Happy Thanksgiving

Proclamation of Thanksgiving
Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America's national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders like this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a prominent magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on 28, 1863, urging him to have the "day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival." She wrote, "You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution." The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise."

According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln's secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary that he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Churches of Port Richmond Park

View Larger Map St. Mary of the Assumption's Chapel

Port Richmond was once one of the two shining commercial areas on the North Shore. Up through the mid-seventies it remained an important shopping and residential district with beautiful stores and homes. Of course all this changed with the advent of Forest Avenue Shoppers Town and later the SI Mall. Eventually the better stores moved out or failed and slowly the neighborhood slipped into an economic downturn that it's never recovered from. As old timers moved out the neighborhood's poverty and crime levels increased. At some point things got even stranger when Port Richmond became the home for all the Mexican immigrants coming to work the lawns and kitchens of the borough.

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Still, much of Port Richmond maintains at least a gloss of architectural beauty. Central to the old Port Richmond was the park between Heberton Avenue (part of which was nicknamed 'Doctors' Row') and the churches that surrounded it. Here are some now and then pictures.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bait and Switch

So I went to the Q&A with Staten Island historians at the New Dorp Moravian Church this past Saturday expecting to have a blast. I drew up a list of questions that I edited down to about half a dozen and was all set to go. All would have helped me clarify things I've put up or am planning to put up on the site. It should have been great.

The first thing when I got there was I saw it was going to be packed. Every parking spot was filled and I was half expecting my fellow late arrivals to start pulling up along the headstones. Cars of old people just circled around aimlessly and blocked other cars from their own terminal orbits of the lots. Finally I just slipped my little Honda Fit in alongside a building at the back of the church property, met my friend Steve McD. and went inside.

Going in I knew the audience would be skewed older. It was; it was skewed right past old into elderly. If there were more than a dozen people under sixty five in attendance I would say Staten Islanders must age terribly.

It's a shame because younger Staten Islanders are the people who are going to need to remember the borough's past. The problem, I guess, is that too many belong to families with no connection to the borough's distant past let alone the pre-bridge past or even the seventies and early eighties. Too many really have a past in Brooklyn and don't hold a nostalgic conception of Staten Island.

I don't know how you develop a love for history because no one ever had to do it for me. I was always obsessed with understanding what used to be somewhere and how whatever happened did. When teachers or my grandparents started telling stories I just sat there, listened and thought up questions to ask. I also can't understand how people aren't as fascinated as I am. I mean I can, it's just that it makes me a little sad.

Surrounding the folding chairs set up in the church auditorium (a beautiful building marred by dirty acoustic tile ceiling.) were tables from all the Staten Island historical groups; the Staten Island Museum, the Alice Austen House, the Tottenville Historical Society, the Staten Island Historical Society, the Conference House and the Jacques Marchais Tibetan Museum. Cool, I thought, I could get some information from them at the end and find out how to get access to their archives. We signed in and grabbed two of the last remaining seats. This was gonna be great.

So the organizer, got up, and in an unfortunate monotone, explained how the event would proceed. Instead of getting to the questions from the audience, representatives of the cultural organizations would get up and make presentations. Yes, a crowd of Staten Island history aficionados would get to hear people talk about Richmondtown, Alice Austen and the Conference House yet again. If the guy from the Conference House in his colonial get-up talked in an old-timey voice I thought I might scream.

He didn't but it was almost as bad. The woman representing the Alice Austen House, in the least interesting sort of community theater acting style, pretended to BE Alice Austen. I had questions to ask and there was bad acting going on about stuff everybody already knew.
When Conference House representative spoke he didn't use an old-timey voice, just a Staten Island one. I wish he had gone for the former. It mightn't have been as disconcerting.

What should have been a great event with all sorts of beautifully inane and pointless questions that should compose the best trivia sessions we got a set of ads for the pretty much the same old boring organizations. Nobody on Staten Island needs to hear anything else about the Voorlezer House. Ever.
Sure it's cool they've saved colonial buildings and moved them to Richmondtown, but I don't care anymore. Tell me about Port Richmond or Mariners' Harbor in the twenties or the old theaters in Stapleton. Tell me about the founding of the New Brighton neighborhood around Franklin Avenue. Just don't tell me about the same old junk I've been hearing since I was five.

To step off for a moment, I will say the Tottenville representative was pretty interesting. Her group's new and recently did a great thing. Through a series of events she didn't elaborate on they discovered the neglected gravesite of the Rev. John Lenhard (spell). He was a naval chaplain and was killed in the sinking of the USS Cumberland by the CSA Virginia at Hampton Roads in 1862. With music and representatives from the navy, they rededicated his grave. Very cool and the exact sort of stuff historical societies should be doing.

Finally we got to the questions. This was what I was waiting for and it was pretty cool. The first question concerned the name of the old movie theater on Victory Blvd. (The Victory!) and the second was about a Chilean racehorse buried at Fort Wadsworth.

One man asked the name of the Indian tribe on Staten Island at the time of the Dutch arrival and I could sense everyone else in the audience saying "Leni Lenape" sotto voco. The panelists did, then, enter into a informative and un-boring discussion about the tribes, known burial sites and the fact that they were part of a trade network that extended from Florida to Canada.

Finally I was called on but the man in front of me took the emcee's pointing hand as his cue to jump up and make more of a statement than ask a question. He wanted there to be more of an emphasis on Staten Island's abolitionist and underground railroad history. The panelists all agreed with him, but, and particularly the borough historian, took the opportunity to make clear that too much of accepted Staten Island history is hearsay. While it's true that many notable abolitionists lived the Island (George William Curtis, Robert Gould Shaw, the Goodhues, the Jewetts, and numerous others), there's little concrete evidence of underground railroad activity. He stressed that doesn't mean it didn't happen but there needs to a be careful search for any possible proof and it's examination.

Then I asked my question. With the large crowd and long delay I had been paring my page of questions down to a single one. I settled on the most obscure one, the one I felt unlikely to find an answer to anywhere else. The picture of the ex-German church on York Avenue indicates it was converted to something called "The Bill Smith Club." I asked and was greeted by silence. The panelists looked dumbfounded and didn't even seem to know exactly where I was talking about. Then the oldest member spoke up.

"The Smiths were a family who lived on Prospect Avenue across from the old PS 17. They had about sixteen kids. It was a political club." His answer was clear without hesitation.

Instead of asking what party it was (though I assume Democratic), I did manage to ask if he knew when the building came down. He didn't, just that it had.

And then it was over. It was getting late and I had to visit my aunt in the hospital. My friend's legs were bugging him and he decided it was time to go too. So we left and while I got some decent information and got a cool question answered I was disappointed. Too much time had been wasted with promos for groups that didn't need any with the nature of the assembled crowd. People had come out in their white haired droves to ask burning questions about borough trivia. They didn't need another round of commercials.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Coolest View Ever (maybe not)

Amazing Aerial View of St. George from the Early Thirties

What amazes me are the huge rail yard at the bottom left and the vast docks at the upper left. Today little remains of either of these vast chunks of infrastructure.

Detail - Borough Hall

Detail - Municipal Lot

Bottom: left - St. George Theater right - Brighton Heights Reformed Church
Center: The site of the present Municipal Parking Lot - You can see the large homes I pictured in an earlier post.

Theaters of the North Shore

The Paramount Theater later a concert venue then Steckman's Sporting Goods warehouse, now ?

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This is where I saw Battle for the Planet of the Apes, The Land that Time Forgot, midway and later the Ramones and Squeeze.

Here are the readily available (meaning from my work computer), at this time, pictures of some of the remaining theaters and movie palaces from the North Shore's past. When I was little (too little for my polite parents to consider bringing to the movies, unlike today where you might find infants in a slasher flick's audience) the Port Richmond theaters were still operating. One, the Ritz, which I'll get pictures up of later, had become a decent concert venue and hosted the Kinks and Jethro Tull (both very, very cool in my admittedly uncool book). By the early seventies only the Paramount and the St. George remained.

Leo's Empire on Richmond Terrace and now Farrell Lumber

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When I was judged to be of safe movie attending age the Paramount in Stapleton and the St. George in St. George were still both open as first run theaters. The Paramount struggled on through 1976 and the St. George through about the same year. I don't have their pictures yet but maybe tomorrow when I'm home with my books and scanner.

The Liberty on Beach Street - later the Park Villa and now a evangelical church

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The St. George Theater later a concert venue then a failed revival house and now a seemingly successful live theater

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Where I saw Jeremiah Johnson, several terrible Christmas shows, King Kong Escapes Godzilla vs. Megalon, Logan's Run, Rocky, and later, David Johansen. Most recently my aunt saw the frightening Mickey Rooney there (like three weeks ago).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Richmond Hotel

Once this establishment was decent enough to feel it warranted its own color post cards. When I was little, my family doctor, Dr. Atlas, had his office in the basement. I remember going there with my mother when she was pregnant with my sister (which is longer ago than either of us wishes to admit). At some point in the seventies it transitioned from real hotel to skanky residential flophouse-like hotel. I can only imagine (and that's because I'm too tired to write more) the sort of post card it would warrant today.

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Richmond Terrace and St. Peter's School

Here's St. Peter's Elementary and Girl's High School. Once, long ago, when Richmond Terrace was lined with beautiful hotels and homes looking out over New York harbor the Democratic Party maintained its Greek revival headquarters. I'm unaware of when the party building came down and was replaced by the school. If you play with the googlemap view you can see that the house in the first picture is still there to the left of the school.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Ascension Cemetery Stuff

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That entire wooded area to the northwest of the track is the location of the Trinity Cemetery used by Ascension Episcopal in days past. Yowzers!

The church was located where that warehouse looking structure in the parking lot on the south side of Richmond Terrace. The pond was on the north side of the Terrace.

Cool Event

The Staten Island Historian is sponsoring a symposium of borough historians and know-it-alls at the New Dorp Moravian Church on Saturday, Nov 22 at 1pm. It sounds very cool and I intend to be there and get some accurate information. I also hope to make some connections for future guidance on reference material and access to the borough's various archives. Woo hoo!

Hidden Cemetery

One of the reasons I was able to locate the place Ascension Episcopal Church once existed was because of the abandoned cemetery that still exists on Richmond Terrace by Alaska Street. It's visible in the old timey picture I put up the other day. I was also intrigued by what I assumed is the rectory on the left side of the picture.

With my trusty camera in hand I took a quick detour to get a good look at the house. While I'm still not sure of it's provenance, I did take some shots of the house. More astonishing was what I discovered about the cemetery.

I have only seen the small portion that fronts Richmond Terrace until now. When I drove up Tompkins I discovered the cemetery is large and its headstones and memorials ornate. I need to get up there with better light, again, perhaps in the leafless winter for better pictures.

York Avenue Remains

The stairs in the right hand photo are all that remain of the German Evangelical Church that once stood on York Avenue. I climbed the stairs into the woods that not fill the lot and couldn't even find the remains of a foundation. I plan to go back again and look more thoroughly, perhaps when winter's denuded all the trees and bushes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Interesting New DVD Releases

The Little Rascals

The Magic Garden

- -

I'm not sure which is more fascinating but I do know which I want to actually watch all of: it doesn't involve puppets and magic trees.

Stinkin' Rude

Don't heat up stinky, atmosphere polluting fish and similar things in the communal microwave unless you've got deodorizer handy. C'mon, it's just polite.

Lost Churches Found

Along the way doing research for this site I've come across several pictures of "lost churches". These are the ones no longer in existence or changed over to some utterly secular undertaking. Two of the most eye catching were the original Our Savior Lutheran on Nicholas and Hatfield in Port Richmond and the original Episcopal Church of the Ascension in West Brighton.

Church of the Ascension - After only having a picture for some months, the NYPL Digital Library site added a page describing exactly where this church had been. Taking that information and the existing landscape I was able to determine its original site.

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Our Savior Lutheran - I just assumed that this pretty little church had been torn down for housing after the congregation built its sleek modern building on Forest and Bard Avenues. Driving home down Nicholas Avenue I suddenly realized that this is not the case. The Moose Lodge, modified, is the old church. It's lost its steeple and ugly siding has covered the old wooden shingle but it's still detecable under the changes.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Tonight two years of mind numbing campaign blather came to a close with the victory of Barack Obama (spell check's got to learn those names). He wasn't my candidate but he is my president. God bless him and I hope he lives up to some of the things he sometimes talked about on the campaign trail. He can't be worse than the much of the last eight years (torture (more than anything else, that's the least forgivable thing attributable to the Bush presidency), unchecked spending, refusal to control illegal immigration, mismanagement of two wars, etc., etc.)

I was born two years before Martin Luther King was killed and now, in my middle age, a black man is the president of this most powerful nation in history. He did it by appealing to a call for change (it's still sort of fuzzy exactly what he means by that), and mostly running a pretty high minded and good natured campaign. It's a testimony to how far this country has really come in forty years.

By contrast, John McCain never seemed focused, looked old and tired much of the time and failed to address the economic situation in a way that at least assured people he maybe knew what he was doing.

I have my worries but they're more about the people clinging to the Democratic Party than the new president. The insane netroots will be pushing him to the far left and the corrupt hacks like Pelosi will be pushing him to expand their grasp over much of civil society.

Still, I have hope. He's not a dumb man and he knows he didn't win just because the Upper West Side and Berkley contingents voted for him. His support has come from across the board of America and I more than suspect he knows that. Also, there's no money left. Congress just gave it away to the bankers who put us in this mess.

So we'll see and hope and pray for the best.