2004-01-16 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

From The Rockaway MuseumDedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
L.L. Ketcham
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Historical Views

Historical Views
of the Rockaways
From The Rockaway Museum
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
L.L. Ketcham’s Ocean House – Seaside - 1900

This exceptional historical view of Seaside shows Ketcham’s Ocean House Hotel and Pavilion in Seaside. Ketcham’s was on the northeast corner of Hollywood Avenue (Beach 101 Street) and Ocean Avenue – the midway of Seaside’s amusement section. If the structures shown were still here, they would be at the northeast corner of Beach 101 Street and Shorefront Parkway.

This postcard with a view was mailed to Brooklyn in 1906, and three years later the structure was torn down for general improvement and expansion at the easterly end of the Seaside midway (Ocean Avenue.) The midway at Seaside went along the oceanfront from Beach 106 Street eastward to Beach 100 Street.

You will notice that there are two buildings in the view. L.L. Ketcham was the last proprietor of the hotel on the left, and on the right stands the Atlantic Hotel, run by a fellow named Allen. No real data was found relating to Ketcham or Allen, but it seems (as shown in the photo) that old L.L. was running both places as one. Each was three stories high, with a cupola about five stories high on Ketcham’s place.

It is not known when Ketcham’s Ocean House Building was constructed but on 1886 maps it was labeled as the Pacific Hotel (with Atlantic Hotel next door.)

An 1887 photo of Seaside taken from the east side of the Beach 105 Street Ocean Pier, showed the Pacific Hotel as the last visible structure in the photo.

The Atlas’ of 1891 and 1894 listed the hotel as the Ocean and Bayview House, and the Atlantic next door as the Hollywood Hotel. No proprietor’s names were given.

Deeds and leases on records showed that the land (for both hotels) was owned by Phillip V. Myers and L.D. Myers. (Misspellings found these two fellows a.k.a Mier and Meyer…oh well.)

The Myers leased and later bought the land in 1876 and 1884 respectively! No records were found concerning the sale of land or buildings by either Myers, and if issues of leases were made – they were not habitually recorded – as was the practice then.

In 1904, the Atlantic Hotel was run by a Mr. Rhodes. A Mr. Weiskopf was also found as a proprietor in the area, but west of Hollywood Avenue.

In the photo, Beach 101 Street is on the left, with Beach 100 Street on the right. Ocean Avenue (the midway) fronts the hotels as a wooden walk.

George C. Tilyou’s Steeplechase Park, in Rockaway, is at the right extreme. But only the park’s water tower pump rig can be seen above the Ferdinand Munch Beer signs.

If you look through the porch on the left, you will see Griepen Kerl’s General Store (this later became Seaside Hardware, then Western Auto and today is Bryan’s Auto Repair.) As mentioned previously, Ketchum’s was torn down in 1909. The Atlantic was moved up to the Boulevard on Beach 101 Street and later burned down; the Ivy House.

Ocean Avenue was promoted from wood to concrete. The hotels were replaced by the Hippodrome Theatre showing silent movies; shooting galleries; a carousel and ferris wheel; restaurants; bathhouses; and various booths with games of chance and souvenirs. Fast food was yet to come.

The wooden posts are remnants of the big Rockaway Park Hotel Grounds, and these were kept in place, to stop vehicle traffic on the strip, until the Seaside oceanfront was torn out by Robert Moses for his Shore Front Parkway in 1938.

All that remains in the area are a few old houses and summer bungalows on Beach 101 Street.

The Beachmere Hotel, run by Gustave Kuntze in 1883, had the only recorded lease from the Myer clan. Either he was Dutch – or Meyer, oops! Myer, didn’t trust him. Kuntze’s place was opposite Ketcham’s on Beach 101 Street. Sounds like a law firm. This property was later sold it to Albertina Harper, and after the Great Seaside Fire (1892) Harper sold to Charles A. Schilling, as the original Curley’s Hotel on Beach 102 Street.

The year this card was mailed (1906) the Myers transferred the land to the Seaside Improvement Company for ($1.00) and leased it back for ($1.00). How about that?

As already said, improvements started a few years after this deal of the century! Ocean Avenue was improved, more places of entertainment were built, bungalows were built, and an access ramp was built to connect Ocean Avenue to Tilyou’s elevated boardwalk, which ran eastwards to Beach 90 Street. New York City wanted to build a bay front parkway and also an ocean front parkway. I always wondered where he got his ideas.

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