2007-12-28 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

First Congregational Church, Rockaway Beach, Queens, NYC
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev,Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S.Locke

The First Congregational Church of Rockaway Beach was founded by Fannie R. Holland of the pioneer Holland Family (1857), and the first church was built in the late 1880s on the south side of Rockaway Beach Boulevard, between Beach 92 Street and Beach 94 Street (on the east side of the present Peninsula Library).

During the late 1890s, it was decided to build P.S. 44 on the corner of Academy Avenue (Beach 94 Street) just west of the church site, where the new library now stands.

At this, the church elders decided to move the church to the corner lot opposite the school site, at the southwest corner of Academy Avenue and the Boulevard. Next door, where the Doughboy Monument now stands, a parsonage was built in 1905.

Today's view was taken in 1914 or so, after the church was rebuilt (right) and expanded with a new auditorium plus (left). Old PS 44 is on the left, or east side, of Beach 94 Street.

Then old Robert Moses came along in the mid- to late- 1930s, and demolished all between Beach 94 Street and Beach 95 Street, ocean to bay, for a parking area, and the beachfront north of the boardwalk (200' in width) from Beach 73 Street west to Beach 108 Street, for Shorefront Parkway.

The present church on Beach Channel Drive, between Beach 92 Street and Beach 94 Street, north of the freeway, had a beautiful rock garden on the Beach 94 Street side, and a portion of this beautiful grotto (if you will) was taken for a sort of continuation of Beach 94 Street, as part of Moses' grade separation for his bridge-widening program in the 1930s.

This photo was put on a postcard in 1947, and cards were sent out to all parishioners by the "every member committee" which canvassed the peninsula for support of the new church improvements, such as a carillon, a new altar, memorial stained glass windows, repairs, and other items.

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