2016-11-02 / Front Page

Thornton Arms Honors Forest Hills’ Past With Lobby Exhibit

By Jason D. Antos

Forest Hills author and historian Michael Perlman has helped turn the lobby of the Thornton Arms into a living testament his neighborhood’s historic legacy. Perlman proudly displays a photo of the Jurgens farm which once stood at the exact location of the Thornton Arms.Photo Jason D. AntosForest Hills author and historian Michael Perlman has helped turn the lobby of the Thornton Arms into a living testament his neighborhood’s historic legacy. Perlman proudly displays a photo of the Jurgens farm which once stood at the exact location of the Thornton Arms.Photo Jason D. AntosForest Hills author and historian Michael Perlman has helped turn the lobby of a 1960s apartment building into a living testament to his neighborhood’s historic legacy.
The Thornton Arms, located at 67-46 Thornton Place in Forest Hills, is a brick apartment house built in 1963, which stands in the footprints of the former Jurgens Farm. The lobby of the Thornton Arms is beautifully decorated with numerous photographs from Pearlman’s collection. The permanent historic display is all part of the lobby renovation, which also features a tranquil water fountain.
Thornton Arms resident, Mimi Pirozzi, played an important role in the lobby’s renovation by developing the concept of displaying historic Forest Hills photos highlighting the Jurgens Farm.
Enter local historian, Perlman, who kindly donated dozens of rare historic images of Forest Hills to the new lobby display.
More than a century ago, the two-story frame farmhouse, complete with barns, chickens and cows, which belonged to one of the ancient families of Forest Hills, stood there from the time the area was known as Whitepot, and was purchased by developers in the late 1950s and turned into the thriving suburban area we have today, according to Pearlman.
There are still members of the Jurgens family living in Queens. According to Pearlman, in Maspeth lives Darren Jurgens (born 1965), the great-grandson of German immigrants Henry Jurgens (1864–1938) and wife, Charlotte Jurgens (1871-1961), who were the farm’s operators. Several years ago, Darren began researching his family history. His inspiration was his father, who would tell stories about his grandparents’ farm.
He encountered his mother’s family photos and began reviewing census records, which noted the farm’s address of Springsteen Lane in 1900; 108 Whitepot Road in 1910; Fleet Street in 1930 and finally 67-46 Thornton Place in 1940. In 1900, Forest Hills was predominantly farmland and had a recorded population of three dozen German residents.
Perlman is a writer, news columnist, editor, and public relations consultant. He is Chairman of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council and a recipient of the Historic District Council's 2014 Grassroots Preservation Award.
In Perlman’s book, “Legendary Locals of Forest Hills and Rego Park” by Arcadia Publishing, readers can discover the unique stories of more than 200 Forest Hills and Rego Park notables, including celebrities, who have shaped the culture and history of these neighborhoods.

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