Historical Views of the Rockaways
I Remember Old Hammels
of the Rockaways
From The Rockaway Museum
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
I Remember Old Hammels
Today’s Historical Views takes us back to 1951, and a view of Beach 81 Street from Hammels Avenue (once a portion of Beach Channel Drive) with the camera facing southwest towards Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Not shown in the view is the Keshin Lumberyard – to the right – formerly Weisman Lumber.
Other commercial establishments nearby were the milk depot, auto dealerships for Studebaker and Kaiser-Frazer, the Frank Plumbing Supply Company, Karoll Lumber Company’s Socony Gas station, a private horse stable, the Shonke Lumber Company, a Long Island Railroad power house, the Hammels Railroad yard (LIRR), the Green Bus Line Hammels depot, and the old Western Union Atlantic Cable building.
The American-Irish Hall was a short distance away, and Angelo Fazio’s ice truck is parked – shown at the bottom left – in today’s Historical View. Down the block at the northeast corner (out of view) is the telephone building.
The large building taking up the entire right side of the photo is the St. John’s Baptist Church at 245 Beach 81 Street. The church bought the site and moved in during the summer of 1944.
The structure was built in 1904 as the Atlantic Athletic Association Clubhouse, and this organization appears to have disbanded at the end of World War I. An atlas of 1919 listed the structure as the Fifthward Athletic Association, where the American Legion held their meetings for a time.
From 1920 to 1929, the building was occupied by Rockaway’s own Twenty-fourth Regiment Armory, and the Ninth Coast Defense Command headquarters. There were artillery outfits, which saw service in France during World War I. When these famous outfits disbanded, the site was in line to become a school.
From 1930 to 1935, the St. Rose of Lima R.C. Church used the place as their Lyceum.
Next in 1935 came the Jewish War Veterans Post #57 until 1944 when St. John’s Baptist Church moved in.
The Hammels section was demolished for the Hammel Houses during the early 1950’s, St. John’s Baptist moved to their present edifice at 74-05 Rockaway Beach Boulevard.
Beach 81 Street was once known as Maple Place and then Dodge Avenue, before numbers came along in the 1920’s.