City designates new Ridgewood South Historic District

City designates new Ridgewood South Historic District
St. Matthias Church in Ridgewood was landmarked as part of a 210-building historic district in Ridgewood. Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rebecca Henely

Queens has been perceived as being overlooked when it comes to landmark designations, but last week the city Landmarks Preservation Commission put 210 buildings in Ridgewood under protection.

By unanimous vote, the commission named the area between Woodward, Onderdonk and Catalpa avenues and Woodbine Street as the “Ridgewood South Historic District.” This is the last historic designated district named in Queens since the Ridgewood North Historic District — located between Fairview Avenue, Woodbine Street, Forest Avenue, Gates Avenue and part of Linden Street — in September 2009.

“It’s very exciting,” said state Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood). “It’s a wonderful thing for our community.”

The new district encompasses 210 buildings, most of them three-story brick tenements constructed in 1911-12 by the G.X. Matthews Co., the commission said. Prior to their construction, the neighborhood of Ridgewood had been a farming community, but improvements to transportation and the consolidation of the five boroughs into one city in 1898 brought residential and commercial development to the area. Many of the buildings were designed by Louis Allmendinger, a Brooklyn architect who also built the former J.Kurtz & Sons Store Building in Jamaica.

“The tenements were so successful in terms of cost and amenities that they became a model for future housing development,” Landmarks Commissioner Robert Tierney said.

The district also includes the St. Matthias Roman Catholic Church complex at 58-15 Catalpa Ave. Designed by local architect Francis J. Berlenbach Jr., the four parts were built between 1909 and 1926.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), whose district covers part of the new historic district, said this designation gives future generations an area that is unique.

“I think it’s important as a society to preserve our rich history,” Crowley said.

At the same time the commission designated the district, it also landmarked four buildings in Jamaica and planned a public hearing for yet another historic district in central Ridgewood. The new district would encompass 900 properties.

“These measures build upon the strong record the commission has established in the past seven years of protecting the architecturally significant buildings and sites that speak to the development and history of Queens,” Tierney said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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