The City Council on Monday voted to grant landmark status to the Brinckerhoff Cemetery in Fresh Meadows, removing any chances to develop the historic site.
“With the landmarking of the Brinckerhoff Cemetery, an irreplaceable part of Queens’ history will be preserved in perpetuity,” said Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows). “After more than a decade-long legal struggle, this hallowed ground, which was used as a cemetery for more than 200 years, is preserved.”
The nearly unanimous vote puts in place preservation mechanisms that will protect the cemetery, located on 182nd Street between 67th and 73rd avenues, from incursion in the form of development or any other disturbances. Any proposals to build upon the site must be vetted by the Landmarks Preservation Commission and match the character of the existing site.
A survey of the plot conducted in 1919 found 77 headstones and markers dated from 1730 to 1872. It was used as a burial ground by the Brinckerhoff family, one of the first European clans to settle in the borough in 1642.
The Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association played an integral role in the landmark status realization. Its president, James Gallagher Jr., thanked the council for its vote.
The 45-to-1 vote was met with broad bipartisan support.
“Queens is rich with historical treasures dating back to the Dutch era, from the Flushing Remonstrance and the Bowne House to Brinckerhoff Cemetery,” said Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone). “It’s important to preserve the historical legacy of the Borough and I’m proud of the bipartisan effort to protect the Brinckerhoff Cemetery.”
The Brinckerhoff Cemetery was a private plot that still houses the remains of dozens of Queens’ earliest residents. Today, there are no visible grave markers the land, and it has become largely overgrown with greenery.
It faced the prospect of being built upon about 12 years ago, after it was improperly sold to private owners who wanted to build two houses on the land. It drove the Queens Historical Society to launch a fundraising effort to buy the site, though it fell short of the estimated $100,000 needed.
Its potential designation has sat on the LPC’s agenda for a dozen years.