Answering your questions about Glendale & Brooklyn churches: Our Neighborhood, The Way it Was

The exterior of Glendale/Maspeth United Methodist Church
Photo: Robert Pozarycki/QNS

We love hearing from our readers as much as we love sharing stories with them about Our Neighborhood of long ago. This week, we’re happy to answer two inquiries that we’ve recently received.

The first comes to us from Werner Ropers of Naples, FL, a former Ridgewood and Glendale resident who emailed a question about street identity and a local church. He writes:

My name is Werner Ropers. I lived in the Ridgewood-Glendale area from 1957-1991. I loved your newspaper when I was residing there. Now I’m retired and living in Naples, FL.

In my retirement, I have been doing family genealogy research. I have come across a baptismal document from 1918 that list a church on 406 Charlotte Place, Glendale, NY.

I’m unable to make out the name of the church on the baptismal record and would appreciate it very much if someone tell me where this church is in Glendale. Is it still a church? I’m sure the name has probably changed since 1918.

I don’t ever recall seeing a Charlotte Place. The name may have changed to a numbered street.

I would appreciate any and all information about this church.

We thank Mr. Ropers not only for sending along his question, but for also sending us a copy of the baptismal certificate from the church. While the resolution is low, we believe — based on our research and examination of the document — that the church he’s looking for is the Glendale Evangelical Church, which is now known as the Glendale/Maspeth United Methodist Church.

A copy of the baptismal certificate from Glendale Evangelical Church (photo by Werner Ropers)
A copy of the baptismal certificate from Glendale Evangelical Church (photo by Werner Ropers)

The former Glendale United Evangelical Brethren Church was founded in 1912, with the Reverend O. Panten as its first pastor. In examining the baptismal certificate, we found what appears to be the pastor’s signature.

Our research also brought us to an Oct. 23, 1937 article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle titled “Glendale Church Jubilee Program,” which mentions briefly the Glendale Evangelical Church’s 25th anniversary celebration the following morning.

“The Sunday program will include an early German service, a Bible School festival, an English service with the Rev. E. M. Glasow, district superintendent and pastor, St. John’s Church, as guest preacher, and an afternoon union service when neighboring pastors will present greetings,” according to the Eagle article.

“The Glendale Church was started 25 years ago by the Rev. Charles Phillipbar of Harrison Avenue Evangelical Church as a missionary effort of the Brooklyn Churches Atlantic Conference of the Evangelical Church,” the article continued. “Opening services were held in a hall Nov. 3, 1912, but in 1913, the present property was secured and a portable building erected. The present pastor, the Rev. George F. Schmid, came to the church ten years ago and, under his pastorate, the present building was erected and dedicated May 12, 1929.”

The church was erected at the corner of Central Avenue and what was then called Hooker Street, which was later renamed 66th Place after Queens was converted into the “Philadelphia system” of street naming.

In July of 1970, the predominantly German Glendale Evangelical Church merged with Christ Church of Glendale-United Methodist, an English-based congregation which was established in 1896, to form the Glendale United Methodist Church. The merger came after both churches became part of the United Methodist Church.

Maspeth United Methodist Church had been located on 58th Street in Maspeth up until 2009, when the original church was significantly damaged by a fire. The church was torn down to make way for housing, and the congregation subsequently merged with Glendale.

Today, the Glendale/Maspeth United Methodist Church, still at the corner of Central Avenue and 66th Place, is as active as ever under the leadership of its pastor, the Reverend Dr. Philip Hardt.

As for the reference to Charlotte Place, our best research found that it was the former name of 60th Lane — but it’s located about five blocks west of the Glendale/Maspeth United Methodist Church site. We believe the information Mr. Ropers provided may have documented the baby’s first outing at a grandparents’ home on what was then Charlotte Place.

Remembering St. Brigid’s Father York

Shortly after we profiled the history of St. Brigid Church on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border in Brooklyn, we received a warm written letter of gratitude from Gertrude Palmer of Massapequa Park, Long Island. She writes:

Dear Old Timer,

My name is Gertrude Palmer and my sister’s name is Florence Leitke. Our maiden name is Semler. We both went to school in St. Brigid, first grade through eighth grade. We were also married in the church.

Our pastor was Father John C. York, the most charitable person I ever met. When we would get good report cards, he would send us around the corner to the butcher, and we were sent home with a turkey or ham for our family.

Now I am 88 years old, and my sister is 90 years old. We both graduated from Bishop McDonald Memorial High School and worked as secretaries in New York City. I have seven wonderful children, 15 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

I received the Ridgewood Times from my friend, Gloria Murphy, who receives it in the mail. When she saw St. Brigid in the paper, she mailed it to me. She lives in North Carolina.

I was so happy to read about my church, I thought I would send my information and wonderful experience about our school and church.

We are now in St. Rose of Lima for over 60 years in Massapequa Park, Long Island, New York.

Our thanks go out to Ms. Palmer for her thoughtful letter. We did some additional research into Father York’s background, and it led us to a rather remarkable photo courtesy of Ellen Finklea, a Rochester, NY resident who has her own genealogy blog.

In her own research, she came across — in (of all places) a thrift shop — a First Holy Communion certificate for Ellen McNamara that Father York signed at St. Brigid on May 23, 1926. She continued digging and found a 1912 picture of a priest identified as Father York (shown wearing a typical priest’s collar) standing near former President Theodore Roosevelt.

Monsignor John York (in collar), former pastor of St. Brigid Church, is shown in this 1912 picture near former President Theodore Roosevelt. (photo courtesy of Ellen Finklea)
Monsignor John York (in collar), former pastor of St. Brigid Church, is shown in this 1912 picture near former President Theodore Roosevelt. (photo courtesy of Ellen Finklea)

The photo predates Father York’s 1915 arrival at St. Brigid; prior to . As we mentioned in our St. Brigid profile, York had a number of friends well-connected in the political theater, including Roosevelt — our nation’s 26th president, former New York governor and former New York City police commissioner. In fact, York invited Roosevelt to a charity function benefitting St. Brigid, but TR politely declined.

We are most intrigued by this discovery, and would love to hear from other readers who may be related to Father York or whose parents or grandparents may remember him.

If you have memories to share with us, send an email to editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com (subject: Our Neighborhood: The Way it Was) or write to The Old Timer, ℅ Ridgewood Times, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361. Any mailed pictures will be carefully returned to you upon request.