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Queens Chronicle

An historic farm in Little Neck is sold

Owners get the OK to build place of worship on old Cornell property

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Posted: Thursday, November 5, 2015 10:30 am

Cornell Farm, a space hidden from view behind approximately 150-year-old trees, on the Nassau-Queens border in Little Neck, has been sold to a church, and historical preservationists are lamenting the sale.

The approximately 1 1/2 acre farm, which is located at 54-47 Little Neck Pkwy., was bought by The Harvest Church of New York, and the sale was filed in January 2014, according to records from the Department of Finance’s website.

The church was also approved as of May 5, 2015 for a permit to construct a new house of worship, according to a Department of Buildings spokesperson.

Jim Trent, who founded the Queens County Farm Museum in Floral Park, said he worked to obtain capital money for the space to be used by the farm museum to purchase the property, raising $1 million from Borough Hall, but fell short of the asking price.

The previous owners, the Patriy family, who purchased the plot from William Cornell’s daughter, had been asking $5.8 million, but the property sold for about $2 million to The Harvest Church.

The area is about 55 percent in Queens and 45 percent in Nassau, Trent said.

On the property are a number of buildings, the oldest being a farmhouse built in 1826. There’s also an 1880 barn nearby, a newer house with an adjacent carriage house — and there used to be a 1905 greenhouse.

Although there are no demolition permits on the property’s history, according to the DOB spokesperson, the curved-glass greenhouse no longer stands.

A spokesperson for The Harvest Church said the greenhouse had been taken down before the church bought the land.

Questions remain as to whether other buildings on the site will be taken down to accommodate the new worship hall.

Paul Graziano, former president of the Historic Districts Council, said the property sold “quietly,” and although he has been monitoring the space for years, he only heard about it a week ago when he received an invitation for a meeting at the address.

He called the situation “another typically sad story about lack of preservation,” because the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission could have preserved the space.

“LPC has known about this site and this building for a long time, and the fact they never designated it is atrocious,” Graziano said, mentioning various other sites that are still seeking approval for landmarking.

A spokesperson for the Landmarks Preservation Commission could not be reached at press time.

“It sold for virtually nothing,” Graziano added. “Part of the tragedy about all of this is that it could have easily been picked up.”

Yet, Trent added that he is still pondering the future of the property.

“We’re not done with this,” Trent said. “I thought this was like, ‘Maybe we lost another one’ ... maybe it’s not over yet.”

CORRECTION: This story originally stated that Paul Graziano is president of the Historic Districts Council. Graziano is the former president of the Historic Districts Council. We regret the error.

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