Philip Paulus House
was a 4 story wooden frame house painted yellow with an open porch facing Metropolitan Avenue and also on the east side of the house. It was at old #1732 Metropolitan Avenue now 60-00 Metropolitan Avenue which would be on the southeast corner of 66th Street, if this street existed today. However this is now part of the Metro Mall and the first street west of the Mall is 65th Lane. We believe the house was built in the early 1900’s by Philip Paulus. He was living in the house in 1924. By 1959, it was a field office for Western Electric Company, Inc. which was the manufacturing subsidiary of American Telephone and Telegraph Co. On October 31, 1929, Western Electric Company, Inc. acquired an irregular shaped plot on the south side of Metropolitan Avenue where the Metro Mall is located today. We estimate that the land area the purchased was about 14 acres. On the site they built a factory which manufactured wooden telephone booths. The Paulus House was to the west of the factory site and was not contiguous.
John H. Faber House
was a 2 ½ story wooden frame house with an open porch facing Metropolitan Avenue and was at old #1708 Metropolitan Avenue on the southeast corner of 65th Place. Mr. Faber built a two story wooden frame building to the west of his house and the ground floor of this building was used for a store. The buildings were located on a five acre lot that he owned. By 1924, the store had a gasoline pump in front.
Henry Homeyer House
was located on 10.24 acres that he owned on the south side of Metropolitan Avenue. The house was between what is now 65th place and 65th Street. In 1860 it was the home of W. Powell and in 1862 it was owned by Henry Homeyer. In April 1886 he built a new house opposite William Repper’s saloon. He then had two houses on his property. In November 1886 he opened a new grocery store on Wyckoff Avenue. He died on January 23, 1887 and had been a resident of Middle Village since 1862. In 1923 both houses were torn down.
Berger Brothers and Ferris
were residential home builders with the principals in the company being Carl Berger who had been associated with Paul Stier, the builder, for a number of years, Louis Berger who was his brother and who was president of the Ridgewood National Bank from 1909 when it was founded, until 1921 when it merged with the Manufacturers Trust Company and became the Ridgewood branch of that institution, and George Ferris. In 1923 this company constructed a number of wooden frame houses on Admiral Avenue, 65th Street and 65th place. To stimulate the building of residential housing, the City of New York granted a tax exemption for a specified period of time. In March 1923, Mayor John Hylan approved an amended tax exemption ordinance which had been passed by the Board of Aldermen. An exemption not to exceed $5,000 was granted on each one-family home, an exemption to exceed $10,000 on each two-family home and an exemption not to exceed $15,000 on each multi-family home on which construction was begun prior to April 1, 1924.
Robert Burroughs House
was at old #1691 Metropolitan Avenue between what is now Mount Olivet Crescent and 65th Street (The current numbers are 65-07 and 65-09 Metropolitan Avenue). Robert Burroughs married Harriet Way, daughter of Charles F. Way. Robert Burroughs was a Judge and also the Town Supervisor of the Township of Newtown. He was elected Supervisor on April 4, 1871 and was re-elected annually for six successive years with his last election being on April 3, 1877. In the 1880s he and his wife moved to Brooklyn where he died in April, 1886. During his terms of office as Town Supervisor he was instrumental in getting several of the main roads macadamized (covered with layers of crushed stone). His widow, Harriet, apparently died shortly thereafter and that is when Heinericke Marquardt sold the property next to the Burroughs property on Metropolitan Avenue.
Charles Ehrmann House
was a two story wood frame house with an open porch facing Metropolitan Avenue. It was built in 1890 on the site of an older house built by his father, W. Ehrmann. The older house was torn down to make way for the new house. It was at old #1691 Metropolitan Avenue (now 65-05 Metropolitan Avenue). In the late 1950s it was Vigh’s Bar and Grill.
The Way Family was one of the pioneer families in the Maspeth/Fresh Pond area. James Way, a Quaker who came from Somersetshire, England was the founder of the family in America. He was here in 1656 when he bought two acres of land. He died on October 2, 1685. The Way Family were prolific and by the 1800s they owned numerous farms in the Maspeth/Fresh Pond area. James Way, a grandson, when he died in the 1700s left in his will the sum of $5,000 – a goodly sum in those days – to the Society of Quakers to be used for the purpose of founding a free school. Charles F. Way, who was the 8th generation of the family in America, on May 2, 1811, acquired a 36-acre farm from Cornelius Duryea of Jamaica for the sum of 750 lbs. The farm was located on both sides of Fresh Pond Road with most of the acreage north of what is now Metropolitan Avenue. In 1811, Edward Tompkins and Charles F. Way gave a quit claim to Richard S. Way, a cousin of Charles F. Way, on 16 acres of land on the east side of Fresh Pond Road immediately to the southeast of the 36-acre farm, part of this 16 acres fronted on what is now Metropolitan Avenue. Charles Way Farm House was originally a one-story wood farm house built about 1811 on the north side of is now Metropolitan Avenue on the 36-acre farm that he owned. It was at old #1689 Metropolitan Avenue, now 65-01 Metropolitan Avenue, on the northeast corner of 65th Street. Charles F. Way died on September 20, 1854. By 1873, Conrad Arzberger was the owner of the house and in 1874 he raised the house and added another story underneath to make it a two-story house. Subsequently, he added an addition to the east, which addition became 65-03 Metropolitan Avenue. In 1924 the house and the addition were both still standing.
John Henry Brunjes Farm
was on the southeast corner of what are now Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road, in the 1860s thru the early 1900s. He was born in Hanover, Germany in 1820. His wife, Anna, was born in Hanover, Germany in 1828. We are uncertain as to whether they were married in Germany or the United States. Before John Henry Brunjes and his family moved to this area he was a tenant farmer in Manhattan. As the City of New York grew and expanded northward, the farm lands were sold and converted into residential housing sites. In 1855, John Henry Brunjes and his family moved to South Williamsburgh, now Ridgewood, where he leased the 20-acre Henry Bergen Farm on what is now Cypress Avenue near Summerfield Street. On January 6, 1862 he bought 6.9 acres of land on the southeast corner of what is now Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road from Joseph H. Way. This land had been part of the Charles F. Way Farm. On July 15, 1867 he bought additional land abutting his farm from Richard S. Way. On July 13, 1872, John Henry Brunjes bought the 21 acre Cornelius Morris Farm on the north side of Myrtle Avenue in Glendale between what is now 78th Street and 75th Street. It was bounded on the north by the railroad. He bought this farm as an investment and leased it out initially to his son-in-law Caspar Herold. John Henry Brunjes died on January 15 1895. His heirs sub-divided the 21 acre farm in Glendale but apparently were unsuccessful in selling building lots. In the early 1900s his heirs sold 1.75 acres of his farm on the southeast corner of Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road to the Long Island Railroad. On September 1, 1909 they sold the balance of this farm to the Bushwick Junction Real Estate Company, a newly organized company which apparently was a subsidiary of the Long Island Railroad. The price was $50,000, which was a very high price. In 1921 his heirs sub-divided the 21-acre farm in Glendale and constructed several hundred one and two-family houses on it which they sold.
Charles Ditmas Farm
in the 1850s was on the northwest corner of Fresh Pond Road and what is now Metropolitan Avenue. He was a trustee of the school district in East Williamsburgh (Ridgewood) that in 1853 opened the one-room schoolhouse on south of what is now Metropolitan Avenue. He had died by 1882 and his farm house was leased to Charles Lang who operated a saloon there called the Lafayette Cottage. Eventually the old farm house was abandoned and in the early 1900s it burned to the ground.
Isaac Debevoise Farmhouse
stood on the southwest corner of Fresh Pond Road and what is now Metropolitan Avenue in the early 1800’s to 1852. In 1851 Isaac Debevoise, who was 68 years old, sub-divided his 50-acre farm which was on the south side of Metropolitan Avenue and west side of Fresh Pond Road, bounded by what is now Amory Court on the west and by mid-block between Menahan and Grove Street on the south. He sold mostly 3 and 4-acre plots, and then on the western end of the farm sold 100’ x 300’ lots. He was the great-grandson of Carel Debevoise who was the first of the family to move to this area from Brooklyn in 1702 when he bought a 60-acre farm at this location. The Isaac Debevoise farm house was torn down in 1852. Franz Eberle’s Saenger Hall Hotel and Saloon was on the site of the Isaac Debevoise farm house in 1873. In July 1882 he sold the business to Henry Both. There was a long succession of saloon proprietors at this location as it was at a busy crossroads.
James Harper House
stood in what is now Lutheran Cemetery on the north side of what is now Metropolitan Avenue between 69th Street and the El Terminal. Sometime prior to 1768, James Harper acquired a small farm in what is now Middle Village on the south side of the Juniper Swamp Road (Juniper Valley Road) near where the Elevated Terminal is today. He built his house on the south side of this road as the Williamsburgh and Jamaica Turnpike/Metropolitan Avenue did not exist. James Harper died in the 1790s and his son, Joseph, who had married Elizabeth Kolyer, inherited the farm. He and his wife had four sons – John, James, Joseph and Fletcher. In 1817, John and James formed J. & J. Harper, publishers. In 1823, their two younger brothers joined them and in 1833 they changed the name of the company to Harper Brothers which eventually became a world renowned publishing company with Harper’s Weekly and Harper’s Bazaar among their publications. In 1820, Joseph Harper bought 18 acres of land adjacent to his farm. In 1844 and 1845, James Harper, son of Joseph and Elizabeth Harper, was the Mayor of the City of New York. Joseph Harper died on December 26, 1847 at age 82 and his widow, Elizabeth, died on November 7, 1854 at age 74. With both their parents deceased and none of the sons having any interest in farming, on February 20, 1861 the Harper boys sold the family farm of approximately 31 acres, with 25 acres north of the turnpike Metropolitan Avenue and 6 acres south of this road. Eventually this land became part of Lutheran Cemetery. By the 1870’s Charles Kattenstroh had leased the Harper House from the cemetery for a saloon and hotel catering to farmers bringing their produce to market. In early 1880 when Charles Kattenstroh died, the cemetery decided not to lease the premises but instead to use it for the residence of the superintendent of the cemetery who was Max Brekendorff. The house was near the office of the cemetery. In April 1896 the cemetery substantially modernized the house and David Avenius who was then the superintendent, lived in it with his family. Subsequently the house was torn down and the site on which it stood, used for grave sites.
Thomas Morrell House
This house was built in 1719 and over the years additions were made to it. It was a 1-story wood house which stood at old #61 Juniper Valley Road, now 71-09 Juniper Valley Road. Thomas Morrell was one of the early settlers in this area of Juniper Swamp in 1661. Over time, he and his family had amassed a farm of about 100 acres. The rooms in the house were small and the doorways were only about 5’ high. By 1934, Echo Waltz, a garment manufacturer, owned the house and he and his family lived in it for fifty years. After his wife, Pearl, passed away, he sold the house in 1984 and moved to California. He donated the dining room furniture in the house to the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society, Inc. and this furniture is today in the Onderdonk House. Echo Waltz died in July, 1989 at age 98. The house was torn down and replaced with condos by developer Henry Fabian, a Middle Village resident.
Charles Kattenstroh House
This two-story wooden house stood on the northwest corner of what are today Metropolitan Avenue and Pleasant View Street. It was built in 1820 by the Furman Family and over a period of years was sold to the North Family. Eventually by the 1870s Charles Kattenstroh and his family lived in the house. He also was the proprietor of the saloon in the Harper House which premises he leased from Lutheran Cemetery. He died in early 1880. His widow continued to live in the house and it remained in the Kattenstroh Family (their name was also frequently spelled as “Kattenstroth”) into the 1950s. The house was then owned by the Juniper Elbow Company who leased it out as a residence. The house was torn down in September 1986 to make way for the Village Plaza Condominiums. The house was located at 71-57 Metropolitan Avenue.
Thomas Morton Property In 1881 the Thomas Morton property on the southwest corner of Metropolitan Avenue and 80th Street was surveyed and sub-divided with streets laid out and 487 building lots mostly, we believe 25’ x 100’ lots. The property extended from 80th Street to about 73rd Place, and from Metropolitan Avenue south to about 68th Avenue and 68th Road. Within these boundaries there were several other owners, notably the Hirsch Family owned property on the south side of Metropolitan Avenue between 79th Street and 80th Street, W.J. Furman owned 1.5 acres on the south side of Metropolitan Avenue abutting 78th Street, and immediately to his west was the property of John B. Rey, who had an estimated 3 acres on the south side of Metropolitan Avenue starting about a hundred feet or so west of 78th Street and going west to about a hundred feet or so east of 73rd place. On the Rey property was his house and also his macaroni factory. The north/south streets laid out on the Morton sub-division were Washington Avenue (80th Street), Morton Avenue (79th Street), Woodlawn Avenue (78th Street), Hinman Avenue (75th Street) and Barnum Avenue (73rd Place). The east/west streets were Steuben Street (67th Road), Lafayette Street (67 Drive), Pulaski Street (68th Avenue), and Grand Street (68th Road). We are uncertain how successful the sale of the lots was when the sub-division was opened in 1881. On May 25, 1898 Oscar Way, who was a real estate auctioneer, offered 44 of the lots from this sub-division for sale.
St. John Cemetery
was founded in 1879 by the Brooklyn Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church St. John’s Cemetery following the example of the New York Diocese who had founded The Calvary Cemetery in 1845 on lands purchased by Bishop John Hughes. The lands that are St. John’s Cemetery have an interesting history. Van Duyn (he later changed the spelling of his last name to Van Dine) acquired a farm of about 350 acres that extended from what is now Furmanville Avenue and from Woodhaven Boulevard west to 80th Street south to Union Turnpike and then at Cooper Avenue about 83rd Street to Myrtle Avenue to Cooper Avenue. William Van Dine died in 1769 and he left the northern part of his farm to his son, Dow Van Dine. This was about 200 acres with Cooper Avenue the dividing line. The southern part of the farm of about 150 acres was left to his two grandsons, Dominicus and William Van Dine, sons of Cornelius Van Dine, deceased. Dow Van Dine during the Revolutionary War was an ardent Loyalist who strongly supported the English King. Directly across the street on the east side of Woodhaven Boulevard was the Remsen Farm and they were just as strong for the overthrow of the English rule. Four members of the Remsen Family served in the American Army under General George Washington. After the war three of them who were officers in the army were buried in the Remsen Cemetery which is located at Alderton Street and Trotting Course Lane, a short distance northeast of the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and Metropolitan Avenue. There was a bitter feeling between Dow Van Dine and the Remsen Family.
When the British lost the war, in 1783 thousands of Loyalists fled the country as they were fearful for their lives. The British Government provided ships to take them to Nova Scotia. The Dow Van Dine Family was among those who left. The New York State Government had passed the Act of Attainder which provided for the confiscation of the personal and real property of those who cooperated with the King. As a result his actions on behalf of the English Government, Dow Van Dine’s farm was confiscated and sold at public auction. The English Government was generous and compensated him for the loss of his farm. His farm was sold to Thomas McFarran, a New York merchant, for 1,900 lbs. When the war was over the soldiers in the American Army received a bonus which was paid in script rather than hard coin. The script quickly circulated at substantial discount and merchants bought some at “5 cents on the dollar”. However, at the auctions of the confiscated property the under the Act of Attainder, the New York State Government accepted script at face value, so possibly Thomas McFarren actually paid the equivalent of 95 lbs. in hard money for the farm. He was an absentee landlord and in the 1790s and early 1800s the ownership of the farm changed hands several times. In 1833 David Mills bought the farm and he moved his family there and operated it as a dairy farm. He died in 1851 and his heirs mortgaged the property. In the 1870s Mr. Gorswald who owned the 5th Avenue Hotel in Manhattan leased the farm for horse breeding and hired Joseph Beitler to manage the farm for him. During this period the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York held the mortgage on the farm and when Mills failed to make the mortgage payments in 1878, the farm was sold at public auction with the insurance company bidding it in for $34,500 which apparently was the outstanding amount due on the mortgage. They held the property for about ten months and then sold it to John Loughlin, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Brooklyn and he in turn conveyed the property to newly-organized St. John’s Cemetery.
The Brooklyn Diocese
was founded out of the New York Diocese in 1853 with Bishop John Loughlin as the head. He remained the head of the diocese until December 1891 when he died. He was replaced by Charles McDonnell who was the second Bishop of Brooklyn. The Van Dine house which stood on the west side of Woodhaven Boulevard several hundred yards north of Cooper Avenue eventually became the Mills House and then was used by Joseph Beitler when he was managing the horse breeding farm. Subsequently when the cemetery acquired the land, it became the office of the cemetery and the residence of the superintendent. The house was torn down in 1904 when a new brick cemetery office was erected near the northeast corner of Metropolitan Avenue and 80th Street. The largest tomb in the cemetery is that of Leonhard Eppig, a wealthy German brewer, who owned the Germania Brewery on George Street in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn.
Pullis Farm In 1828 Thomas Pullis,
who was 53 years old, came from New York City and bought a 32-acre farm from Joseph Harper for $1,350, with the farm on the northwest corner of the Williamsburgh and Jamaica Turnpike (Metropolitan Avenue) and 80th Street. The land stretched north to what is now Juniper Boulevard North and we believe the western boundary was about 150 feet west of what is today 79th Street. Thomas Pullis died in 1851 and in February 1852 his son, James H. Pullis and John Carhart, (who we believe was a son-in-law) hired H. F. Betts, a surveyor, to layout and sub-divide about 17 acres of the farm. He laid out streets and 116 building lots mostly 50’ x 150’ on the west side of 80th Street from the turnpike north to Juniper Valley Road, on both sides of Pullis Avenue (79th Place) from the turnpike north to Juniper Valley Road, and on both sides of Furman Avenue (79th Street) from the turnpike north to Furmanville Avenue. They filed map #254 with the Clerk of Queens County and started selling lots. This was one of the major developments the history of Middle Village. In 1860, one of the 50’ x 150’ lots resold for $120.