The first plaque explaining a building’s historical, cultural, and architectural significance in Forest Hills went up on Sunday, June 4. More are coming.
The unveiling of the 16” x 20” bronze plaque containing two pictures went up at The Park Briar at 110-45 Queens Boulevard.
Built as a rental on December 2, 1952, with 163 apartments for the middle class moving in, it became a co-op in the early 1980s. The Trump family managed the building at one time, according to the building’s website, parkbriar.com.
A marble lobby, exceptionally large picture windows, cross-ventilation throughout the building, and walk-in closets with lights were part of the amenities, said Michael Perlman, Chair of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council and Founder of Forest Hills & Rego Park Historic Plaque Initiative.
The building was created soundproof and fireproof, with GE automatic dishwashers in all of the apartments, 13’ x 26’ living rooms, railed dining alcoves, and a heated underground garage,” said Perlman. The mail chutes on all floors are still in use.
Perlman first met with the Park Briar co-op board in December 2021 and co-designed the plaque. Frank DiBella of Academy Engraving, who makes the Tony Awards, created the plaque.
Michael Perlman is a fifth-generation Forest Hills resident who credits walking with his parents as a young child as fostering his love of buildings and the neighborhood.
Owners The Fisher Brothers – Martin, Larry, Zachary, and architect Lawrence M. Rothman – built the building. Jaime Rose Fisher, great-granddaughter of Larry and the fourth generation to work at The Fisher Brothers, unveiled the plaque.
“I can only imagine their immense pride,” said Fisher. A picture of her great-grandfathers is on the plaque.
The Park Briar is the type of architecture “that gives Forest Hills its unique character,” said Frampton Tolbert, Executive Director of Historic Districts Council, which advocates for historical, cultural, and architecturally significant neighborhoods.
The Trylon Theater’s and Parkside Chapel’s demolitions, as well as the impending tearing down of the Forest Hills Jewish Center, highlight the need to appreciate the landmarks while they’re still around. “We need to celebrate these buildings while we still have them and share their history,” said Tolbert.
Jason Antos, Executive Director of the Queens Historical Society, said, “The most exciting and dynamic architecture can be found here in Queens.” The organization archives and researches the borough’s past.
Thomas J. Grech, President of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said the Park Briar “is a beautiful icon in the neighborhood.” The building won First Prize in the Better Building Award from the Chamber in 1952.
“Fast forward to 2023, there are about $28 billion of developments and projects going on just in Queens County,” said Grech. These include the $7 billion LaGuardia Airport renovation, $19 billion for JFK Airport changes, the Flushing Waterfront clean-up and build-up, and Invocation QNS with affordable housing, and community space in Astoria.
Leslie Brown, President of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, thanked Perlman for getting the plaque honoring deaf advocate Helen Keller, put up at her former residence at 71-11 112th Street. The Reform Temple of Forest Hills is there now, but this, too, is slated to be torn down.
“Historical buildings such as this one are so important to keep in Forest Hills,” said Leslie Brown.
The Sutton, a co-op with 72 units at 109-14 Ascan Avenue in Forest Hills, will have a plaque put on the outside of their building in about a month, said Perlman.
By David Schneier