Douglaston's Oldest Cottage Restored
The Community Church of Douglaston and the Douglaston Little Neck Historic society recently celebrated the renovation and restoration of one of the oldest cottages in Douglaston, the church parsonage.
Part of the church’s two-acre campus at 39-50 Douglaston Pkwy, the parsonage is hidden from view from the street by shrubs and is situated at the end of a long gravel drive.
The house had fallen into disrepair in recent times and the church has reclaimed this charming building for the new pastor, the Reverend Linden DeBie and his family.
The oldest part of the cottage is a typical one and a half story vernacular style Long Island farmhouse dating to the 1850s. If one looks closely the ancient shape is still visible under some of the 20th century additions including a front porch and second story dormer. The house originally featured two rooms, a living room and dining room on the first floor with a fireplace and two bedrooms on the second floor. It is also likely that it once had a one-story kitchen wing.
The earliest structure is constructed using balloon framed stud walls, considered a revolution in mid 19th century architecture that radically increased the speed of construction by using studs that are continuous from the first floor to the roof. Two substantial additions followed, one in the 1880s, and another in the early 20th century.
The house is considered an important component of the Douglaston Historic District Extension, which has been under consideration by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission since 2007, but has not yet been designated.
The earliest part of the house shares a kinship with the other cottages north of Community Church on Douglaston Parkway (between the Church and the Manor Apartments) that are extraordinary survivors from the mid-19th century and also part of the Historic District Extension.
Irish immigrants who worked at the nearby Douglas and Parsons estates built these houses.
It is believed that the cottage was eventually used as a servant’s quarters for the adjacent Clinton Van Vliet estate, the extravagant turreted mansion that once occupied the current site of P.S. 98.
Van Vliet, who died in 1914, was the president of the Goodyear India Rubber Company.
The Community Church used the building as a parsonage from the time the church was founded in the late teens until a much grander house in Douglas Manor was purchased in the 1940s.
An open house and tour of the entire historic church campus, including demonstrations of the newly restored and expanded memorial organ, the 1924 Colonial Revival Church sanctuary and the 1952 Leonhardt Chapel was held in October.
For more information, visit the Douglaston and Little Neck Historical Society website at www.dlnhs.org.