Fresh Meadows Graveyard Protected
City Council Members James Gennaro and Mark Weprin joined State Sen. Toby Stavisky and neighborhood civic leaders in celebrating the first step towards preserving the historic and neglected Brinckerhoff Cemetery in Fresh Meadows.
In a unanimous vote last Tuesday, Aug. 14, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) decided to grant landmark status to the burial ground on 182nd Street near 73rd Avenue. The site was used as a private graveyard for members of one of the first European families to settle what is now the borough of Queens.
According to surveys of the site, the earliest grave there dates back to 1730. The last recorded burial appears to have occurred in the late 19th century, and the cemetery had fallen into disrepair by the time the city auctioned it off to a neighbor in the 1950s to pay off tax debts.
Preservationists have been fighting attempts to develop the property ever since. The site first made it on the LPC calendar more than a decade ago, but the case took on new urpantheon gency when a new owner purchased the property in 2010. After the City Council votes to approve the designation, the next step will be to find a not-for-profit group capable of purchasing and maintaining the property.
“As colonial-era Queens settlers were known exclaim upon hearing great news, it is apropos that we shout huzzah on this day-the Brinckerhoff Cemetery is landmarked,” said Gennaro. “This designation has been a long time coming-I have been working towards this day since I took office 10 years ago. It is a crown jewel in the of Queens’ rich historical treasures and I applaud the Landmarks Preservation Commission for reviewing the case and making the proper decision. The final resting place of nearly 80 people who helped settle Queens should not be torn up to make way for homes or apartments.”
“I am delighted that the Landmarks Preservation Commission listened to the voices of the community and granted landmark status to the Brinckerhoff Colonial Cemetery, recognizing its significance to the history of Queens,” added Weprin, who submitted letters to the LPC urging them to preserve the cemetery and whose district closely neighbors the site.
“Brinckerhoff Cemetery is an important part of Queens’ heritage, and I’m happy to hear that it has achieved permanent landmark status after so many years of effort,” Stavisky said. “Having been at all of the rallies they have held over the years, I know that this is a great victory for the people of Fresh Meadows, and for the civic and homeowners associations that have fought so diligently on behalf of this site. I applaud them for their efforts, and look forward to seeing this site preserved and maintained for future generations.”