Middle Village had been a farming town for centuries, but by the 1920s, things began to change. The opening of bridges to the mainland, providing easier food transportation from large farms outside the city, combined with city policies that encouraged development, jump started Middle Village’s transformation from endless acres of fields to a mainly residential area. The wealth gained by many during the Roaring Twenties meant that more people could purchase real estate, and the recently opened 8th Avenue subway line at Queens Blvd drew those who wanted to be able to commute to Manhattan by train.
The first of three building booms began in the late 1920s. Two of the major homebuilders of this time in the Middle Village area were the Nansen Building Corporation and Baier & Bauer.
Charles Baier started on his first Middle Village development, the Parkville Homes, in 1927. He started with the construction of 30 homes at Juniper Valley Road and 77th Place. He soon teamed up with Ridgewood developer August Bauer to form the Baier & Bauer firm, and by 1928, 150 rowhouses were in the works. These homes were built for single families, each containing 6 rooms and made of all-brick construction. Ads of the time mention “tiled kitchen, double-cemented inlaid linoleum, Sanitas decorations (wallpaper), Frigidaire, quality cabinets, gas range, open fireplace, parquet floors, colored tile bathroom, built-in Pembroke tub & shower, brass plumbing and Richardson & Boynton steam heat.” Market value was $7,790.
Nansen’s semi-attached dwellings also contained 6 rooms, were located at Juniper Valley Road and 75th Street and featured all-brick construction. Their asking price in 1928 was $7,950. Other advertised features were as follows: “tile kitchen & bath, built-in tub & shower, furnished breakfast nook, parquet floors, 3×8 beams, solid concrete foundation, Craftex decorations (plaster), steam heat, brass plumbing throughout, copper gutters and leaders, Spanish tile roof and Save-U-Time water heater control.”
August Bauer later partnered with Paul Stier, another prolific Ridgewood builder, to construct a tract of homes at 78th Street and Furmanville Avenue in 1931. These houses featured 7 rooms with “beautiful rock gardens, recessed radiators, open fireplaces, large cedar closets, garages, and a radio aerial in the cellar.” All this and more was available for the price of $7,790.
The 1920s building boom set the stage for even more development in the 1930s, which will be detailed in the next edition of the Juniper Berry.