Call it a landmark day for Bayside.
The historic Lydia Ann Bell and William Ahles House, a 19th-century home named after two of the neighborhood’s most important figures, will receive landmark status from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, Councilman Paul Vallone announced on Tuesday.
The Bell-Ahles House was among 95 proposed historic sites across the city on the LPC calendar that had been repeatedly delayed year after year. In clearing its backlog of proposals, the LPC also moved to scrap two controversial landmarking proposals focused on historic areas of College Point and Douglaston.
Regarding the Bell-Ahles House, the three-story home on 213th Street off 39th Avenue, is “an iconic reminder of Bayside’s character and history,” Vallone said in a statement. According to the Historic Districts Council, which also advocated for the home’s landmarking, the house was constructed around 1873 by farmer Robert M. Bell for her daughter, Lydia Bell, and her husband John William Ahles, a merchant and officer of the New York Produce Exchange and Queens County Agricultural Society.
The home was constructed about seven years after railroad service reached the Bayside area. The home is located one block west of Bell Boulevard, named for the Bell family, which serves as the neighborhood’s main commercial district.
Paul DiBenedetto, president of the Bayside Historical Society, applauded the Ahles House’s impending landmark status, noting that the organization has fought for such a designation for over 20 years.
“We were thrilled to hear that this 1870s Bell family estate, a critical reminder of Bayside’s rich and rapidly disappearing past, is soon to become an official NYC landmark,” he said.
Vallone noted that the proposal would undergo another round of public hearings before the LPC and City Council, but the plan is “certain to pass with the Council member’s support,” according to a press release from his office.
Meanwhile, the LPC decided to forego plans for the expansion of the Douglaston Historic District, a plan that drew strong criticism from Community Board 11 and local residents. The board and homeowners in the affected area believed the landmark regulations accompanying historic district designation would restrict property owners’ rights to make improvements.
The LPC also abandoned the proposed landmarking of the First Reformed Church and Sunday School of College Point, located at 118-17 14th Ave. As with the Douglaston expansion plan, Community Board 7 and the church congregation opposed landmarking over concerns that it would impede any future use or renovation of the property.