Jamaica’s King Manor all set to get a new roof

TimesLedger File Photo
By Rich Bockmann

Jamaica’s King Manor is getting a face-lift.

The Colonial-era farm house that was once home to founding father and abolitionist Rufus King will be getting a new $1 million roof later this year.

“There are a number of leaks in the attic and we’ve been doing temporary repairs for a while now,” said Jonathan Mellon of the Historic House Trust of New York City, which works with the city Parks Department to preserve and promote 23 historic houses across the five boroughs.

The Colonial Georgian-style house, which was built in 1750, got a new roof in the mid-1980s and Mellon said it is due for a new one.

“It’s held up pretty well considering how long it’s been on there — more than 20 years now,” he said. “It’s outlived its useful life.”

The city Parks Department last week put out bids for the $1 million project, which was funded entirely by former Borough President Helen Marshall, and construction is expected to kick off sometime this summer.

Mellon said work is scheduled to be completed by the spring of 2015 on the gambrel-style roof over the main building and the caretaker’s apartment.

When King bought the three-story, yellow clapboard farmhouse on what is now Jamaica Avenue in 1805, he was in between two stints representing New York in the U.S. Senate and had established himself as a Revolutionary War hero. He was a signer of the U.S. Constitution who held strong anti-slavery views.

King is well-known for an 1819 speech he delivered supporting an anti-slavery amendment to a bill granting statehood to Missouri.

The Village of Jamaica bought the property after King’s wife died in 1896, and it came under the purview of the Parks Department after Queens consolidated with New York City in 1898.

Today King Manor Museum and Park provides educational programs to students interested in learning about the city’s historical past and serves as the venue for an annual naturalization event when new Americans become citizens.

Mary Anne Mrozinski, the manor’s executive director, said the new roof will definitely be an improvement over the current one in terms of the way it looks and — more importantly — in function.

“That’s pretty much what you want from a roof, just to keep the leaks out,” she said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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