Historic Houses of Queens was written by Rob MacKay, who currently works for the Queens Economic Development Corporation. His interest in writing the book
grew after he became a trustee of the Queens Historical Society.
Queens boasts a rich history that includes dozens of poorly publicized, but historically impressive, houses.
A mix of farmsteads, mansions, seaside escapes, and architecturally significant dwellings, the homes were owned by America’s forefathers, nouveau riche industrialists, Wall Street tycoons, and prominent African American entertainers from the Jazz Age.
Rufus King, a senator and the youngest signer of the US Constitution, operated a
large family farm in Jamaica, while piano manufacturer William Steinway lived in a 27-room, granite and bluestone Italianate villa in Astoria.
Musicians whose homes are still standing in the borough include Louis Armstrong,
Count Basie, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, and Lena Horne.
Through more than 200 photographs, Historic Houses of Queens explores the homes’ architecture, owners, surrounding neighborhoods, and peculiarities.
All the while, MacKay considers that real humans lived in them. They grew up in them. They relaxed in them. They proudly showed them to friends and family. And in some cases, they lost them to fire, financial issues or urban renewal projects.
“This is a true labor of love,” said MacKay, who lives in Sunnyside. I spent a countless weekends on research and writing,” said MacKay, who lives in Sunnyside. “But it was worth it. Queens is such a special place, and its history is absolutely fascinating. It’s an honor and a pleasure to share this information with readers.”
Historic Houses of Queens is currently available on Arcadia Publishing’s website.