Plans to restore historic Fresh Meadows cemetery move forward with sale

Photo via Google Maps

The neglected but landmarked Brinckerhoff Cemetery in Fresh Meadows will soon see improvements after a change in ownership.

Friends of Brinckerhoff Colonial Cemetery, a nonprofit organization, will close on the deal to purchase and take possession of the the historic burial ground along 182nd Street within the next 90 days. The group has signed contract of sale with private cemetery owner Le Dan Cai to acquire the property for $180,000.

The group made the announcement at a press conference organized by state Senator Tony Avella on May 4.

One of the oldest, colonial-era burial grounds in Queens, the Brinckerhoff Cemetery was the burial site for prominent land-owning Dutch families, such as the Brinckerhoffs, Hooglands and Montforts. There are currently no visible gravestones or markers at the site; however, based on archived records, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) estimates 77 people are buried there.

The cemetery was granted official landmark status by the LPC in 2012. The property was purchased by its current owner, who sought to develop the plot, in the years prior.

However, since the cemetery was landmarked, the owner was unable to go through with the plans. Since then, the burial grounds have sat in a general state of disrepair.

The Friends of Brinckerhoff Colonial Cemetery will work with the city and the Department of Parks and Recreation on a long-term plan for the cemetery and its continued maintenance.

“It has been a very long road and this is a good day that shows all of the efforts to restore this centuries old cemetery that was unfortunately left behind,” said Yolanda Gallagher, president of Friends of Brinckerhoff Colonial Cemetery. “I want to thank Senator Avella for allowing us to be a part of history.”

Photo courtesy of Avella's office
Photo courtesy of Avella’s office

“It has been a long process, almost 20 years since we found out this cemetery existed, and now it is finally almost over,” said Jim Gallagher, president of Fresh Meadows Civic Association.

In February, Councilman Rory Lancman announced that the city was moving towards a deal to acquire the cemetery. He and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz have already allocated $450,000 in the city budget to fund repairs.

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