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Queens Chronicle

Forest Hills enclave honored by the city

Neo-Tudor neighborhood included in the “Six to Celebrate” program

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Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014 10:30 am

The 38 neo-Tudor homes within the confines of Forest Hills known as Forest Close has been chosen by the Historic Districts Council as one of 2014’s “Six to Celebrate” locations in the city.

A yearly contest, the HDC selected Forest Close, located along 75th and 76th avenues between Queens Boulevard and Austin Street, along with five other city neighborhoods out of approximately two dozen nominations.

Forest Close’s selection by the HDC will allow the council to form a partnership with the neighborhood.

The goal of the alliance with the Forest Close Association, the neighborhood’s self-preservation group, will be establishing fundraising efforts and educational programs aimed at preserving Forest Close, according to HDC Executive Director Simeon Bankoff.

“It’s a really great place,” Bankoff said. “We’re looking forward to working with neighborhood groups who already do have good preservation protections to see if there’s an easier way to preserve the look and feel of the neighborhood.

“We also look at developing architectural guidelines,” he continued, “and helping shine a light on the wonderful little neighborhood they have there.”

Bankoff also said the HDC will aid any official city landmarking attempt Forest Close may seek for itself in the future.

“At some point down the road, if they want to be landmarked by the city, we will advise them,” he said. “In fact, we’ll be present at a hearing next month about a Staten Island neighborhood and on the same day, there’s a hearing about Park Avenue.”

“We also help put areas on the national Register of Historic Places,” he continued.

The homes that make up Forest Close are of a neo-Tudor style, which became prominent in late 19th century England and saw a revival throughout the northeastern United States in the early 20th century.

Neo-tudor homes are half-timbered and prominently feature stones, bricks or stucco as well. The roofing and siding feature sharp angles and the grounds of such residences are often accompanied by shrubbery and greenery growing on or next to the structure.

The homes in Forest Close and the adjacent Arbor Close neighborhood, according to Rego-Forest Preservation Council Chairman Michael Perlman, were designed by notable Queens architect Robert Tappan in the 1920s, and remain some of the most beautiful in the borough.

“They are reminiscent of a fairy tale, like a story book from the 1800s,” Perlman said. “I’ve always felt that Forest Close and Arbor Close are very special and distinctive places in Forest Hills.”

Perlman believes that the area’s selection as one of the six celebrated neighborhoods will start the ball rolling in terms of Forest Close eventually acquiring landmark status sometime in the future.

“The homes and grounds are well-preserved, but now it’s just a matter of the city working with the community groups to recognize the fight for landmark status,” he said. “If many more community groups and preservation groups bond and submit requests to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, Forest Close will see its day in court and receive historic district status.”

Forest Close resident John Harrington, a member of the Forest Close Association who helped submit the group’s application to the HDC, couldn’t be more thrilled about its inclusion in the Six to Celebrate contest.

“I’m excited, particularly on the part of my neighbors. I wasn’t surprised by the selection,” Harrington said. “I’m so glad that my neighbors are happy.”

Harrington, 59, has lived on 76th Avenue in Forest Close for seven years. An architect who maintains a passion for historic preservation, Harrington believes, like Perlman and Bankoff, that the HDC choosing Forest Close will ultimately lead to landmark status in the future.

“Forest Close and Arbor Close are no-brainers. I know how valuable it is and it’s worth saving,” he said. “I know it’s a strong candidate,” he said.”

The other five areas chosen by the HDC include New York Public Libraries, a portion of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, 19 Staten Island cemeteries, a section of Park Avenue on the Upper East Side and Madison Square North in Manhattan.

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