Avella, civics asking for historic status for Cornell Farmhouse

By Tom Momberg

Several civic organizations have joined state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) in calling on the city Landmarks Preservation Commission to grant historic preservation status to the 200-year-old William Cornell Farmhouse in Little Neck.

Avella and the groups claim they have been submitting applications to the LPC to landmark the site for about a decade, but it has never approved them.

The property was purchased for $2 million in 2014 by the Harvest Church of New York, which has since razed the greenhouse adjacent to the farmhouse that it plans to modify to use as a rectory, and has proposed building a house of worship on the property’s front lawn.

“The Cornell Farmhouse is a integral part of the area’s history, and it is crucial it be saved so that future generations can understand how we lived and how the town developed. Without quick action by the LPC, this important gateway to our past will be lost forever,” Douglaston and Little Neck Historical Society Executive Director Susan Mathisen said.

In addition to the local historical society, other organizations urging the LPC to act now are the Queens County Farm Museum and the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance Foundation. They said it is the last opportunity they have to prevent the permanent loss of the building’s early 19th-century character.

“The (number) of Queens properties as historic and well-preserved as the Cornell Farmhouse can be counted on one hand,” Avella said in a statement. “There is no reason this site should not be preserved so that it can continue to represent the origin of this borough for the generations to come.”

The LPC did not respond to requests for comment.

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