2017-12-06 / Features

Namesake Of McGoldrick Library Honored

(L. to r.): Reverend Joseph T. Holcomb, pastor of Saint Andrew Avellino Parish, Dennis Walcott, President and CEO of Queens Library and Joseph Brostek, parish historian. 
Photo Courtesy of Queens Library (L. to r.): Reverend Joseph T. Holcomb, pastor of Saint Andrew Avellino Parish, Dennis Walcott, President and CEO of Queens Library and Joseph Brostek, parish historian. Photo Courtesy of Queens Library Queens Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott hosted an unveiling ceremony of a bronze plaque commemorating Father Edward F. McGoldrick that will be mounted in the McGoldrick Library branch on Tuesday, November 28, at 3 p.m. There was also a benediction by Rev. Joseph T. Holcomb, the 6th pastor of St. Andrew Avellino Parish, remarks by local officials, music by the Saint Andrew Avellino Academy Chorus and comments by Saint Andrew Avellino parish historian, Joe Brostek, Trustee of the Queens Historical Society.

There was a standing room only crowd at McGoldrick Library for the ceremony. Queens Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott was the MC. Remarks were given by State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Assembly Member Ron Kim, Sandra Ung representing Congress Member Grace Meng, and Marilyn McAndrews, Manager of CB 7.

Brostek worked for almost two years to get this historic “oversight” corrected. President Walcott fully agreed, and Queens Library provided the beautiful bronze plaque which Walcott and Brostek unveiled on Tuesday.

The following introduction was given by Brostek:

Once upon a time. A long time ago. Actually it was over 100 years ago!

A very nice young man named Edward McGoldrick came from Ireland to New York City.

He was a Catholic priest and he had assignments at churches in Brooklyn and Queens.

One day his boss, who was a bishop, said to him “Edward, I have a very important job for you.”

“There are many nice people in Upper Flushing” – that’s what this area used to be called – “nice people who go to church on Sundays.” Unfortunately the closest church for them was St. Michael’s far away in downtown Flushing. There were no buses then – there was a trolley car but it was not reliable. And very few people had cars 100 years ago. It was a very long walk – especially in the rain or snow.

So the bishop said, “Edward I would like you to build a church where the people live.” Edward took on the assignment and proceeded to do a great job. It was not long before a small wooden church called St. Andrew Avellino’s was built on what is now 158th Street and Broadway.

If you are wondering about the name “Broadway,” you should know that Northern Boulevard used to be called Broadway. It was changed to Northern in 1916. That is why this area is called Broadway-Flushing.

And the LIRR Station is called Broadway.

In 1941 the beautiful towering church replaced the small wooden church.

Father McGoldrick loved reading and education. He knew that someday he would open a school. In 1921 he joined the Queens Public Library Board of Trustees and worked very hard with the community to have a library established. He opened a school in 1925 and it is a thriving academy today. Very pleased that some Academy folks are here today.

Father’s efforts to get a library were successful and the Broadway-Flushing Community Library was opened in 1929. He passed away in 1930 and not long after, the Board of Trustees voted to change the name of the library to the McGoldrick Community Library in his honor.

In the years that followed, the library was moved a few times into old buildings, until 1974, when a new building was constructed here at historic Corporal William Leonard Square.

Somewhere along the way during the relocations – the proper identification of Fr. McGoldrick was lost.

The plaque you passed in the lobby tells you that a man named Abe Beame was mayor in 1974. It also names people involved in the construction and architecture, but it simply says “McGoldrick Branch Library” with no explanation of who McGoldrick was!

I live close by and I would frequently stop in and ask “Who was McGoldrick?” Sometimes the lovely people at the desk had to confess that they did not know. So my mission began. I arranged to have reference notes at the desk to explain who McGoldrick was for anyone who might ask.

Almost two years ago I started my “campaign” to have Father McGoldrick properly recognized.

Working with McGoldrick Manager Indra, I contacted library officials and President Walcott, who fully agreed to the proposal.

And so here we are today. Many thanks to President Walcott and his excellent staff for helping so much to make today happen.

The Central Library archives uncovered a beautiful picture of Father McGoldrick which is mounted in the plaque we are about to unveil. I worked with President Walcott’s staff to prepare the descriptive words on the plaque.

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