Three brothers — Leon, Morty and A.B. Wolosoff — built up a building dynasty in the 1930s that rivaled any other in the area, and the company name is still active today.
Perhaps not as well known as Cord Meyer, Fred Trump or Gross-Morton, the low-key Wolosoff Brothers came out to Queens at the height of the Great Depression in 1931 and made good with their first venture, called Stafford Lawns Homes, off 69th Avenue in Forest Hills.
In the late 1930s, they pushed on east into newly created communities called Kew Gardens Hills and Briarwood, giving future homeowners a choice of eight different model homes, priced between $8,500 and $14,000, for the middle- to upper middle- class family. They gave families of modest means — often still tied to some landlord in Brooklyn — the confidence to move out to suburban Queens.
Leon Wolosoff, who lived on Ingram Street, was proud in 1953 when his only daughter, Joan, married a young attorney who had graduated cum laude from Washington and Lee University. His name was Sol Wachtler, and he later became chief judge of the state Court of Appeals. But he lost it all in a scandal involving another woman and resigned from office.
As you drive down the service road of the Grand Central Parkway, the Wolosoff homes look as good today as when they were built more than 70 years ago. And the Wolosoff family continues to make headlines as their charity foundation recently lost $38 million in the Bernard Madoff scandal.