The Newtown Historical Society (NHS) completed its two-year mission to bring back a long-lost roadside marker noting the former location of the Maspeth mansion that belonged to NYC Mayor and Gov. DeWitt Clinton.
The marker is now at the intersection of Maspeth Avenue on 56th Terrace and 58th Street. The new, blue and yellow sign replaced the one that was originally installed in the 1930s by the NYS Department of Education’s State History Office, and is believed to have disappeared when the roads were widened and reconfigured decades ago.
NHS’ President Christina Wilkinson said she was inspired to bring it back in 2017 while doing research.
“I came across a photo of the old marker that was at the intersection,” Wilkinson said. “I thought to myself, why couldn’t NHS replace it? There’s a tree-lined plaza at the location now and it would enhance the area while teaching residents about the history of Maspeth.”
Clinton, the “Father of the Erie Canal,” is believed to have planned said canal at his Maspeth summer home. During the American Revolutionary War, the mansion was used as the headquarters for the British general Joseph Warren, according to a report from the Associated Cultural Resource Consultants.
Clinton and his wife Maria inherited the mansion from his father-in-law, Walter Franklin. But the mansion, which stood near the historic town dock, Newtown Landing, burned down in 1933 after years of neglect.
Senator Joseph Addabbo’s office determined that the plaza where the current marker is installed was owned by the NYC Department of Transportation, and funding from Councilman Robert Holden covered the cost of the marker.
It was purchased from Catskills Castings, which also created the original marker for the State History Office.
According to the NHS, Community Board 2 unanimously voted in favor of supporting the placement of the marker back in March. The NYC Design Commission then approved NHS’ application in July.
Tony Nunziato, president of the Juniper Park Association, arranged for Marco Properties to install the marker and on Dec. 16, the project was completed. Money collected from a Facebook fundraiser covered the cost of installation.
“Montauk has long been known as ‘The End’ of Long Island,” Nunziato said. “Well, Maspeth is actually ‘The Beginning’ both geographically and historically and this project helps acknowledge that.”