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Queens Chronicle

Death of a mansion

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Posted: Thursday, September 26, 2013 10:30 am

Old-time Flushing residents still talk about the grand mansions and estates that once graced the area but were demolished one by one after World War II.

One of them was the Thomas Seaman Willett house, which stood on the north side of Northern Boulevard at 195th Street, in Auburndale.

Willett (yes, with two Ts) was a descendant of Thomas Willett, the first mayor of New York City, appointed in 1665.

The original house, which later became a smaller wing on the left side, was built in 1740. The massive addition came in 1835. In 1910 the grand home was greatly altered with an Ionic portico colonnade facade out front.

It then was converted into the Lutheran Church in the Mansion. The Rev. Howard L. Halter was the pastor and lived a short distance away at 45-32 193 St.

In the late 1930s and early 1940s the Lutheran congregation declined. Commercial developers who liked the Northern Boulevard frontage purchased the historical building in 1945 and demolished it.

Today the site remains commercial. And all over Queens, lovely homes continue to fall, only to be replaced, more often than not, by architectural junk.

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