2012-01-27 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

St. Malachy’s Home, Rockaway Park, N.Y. – 1905
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

The new building of St. Malachy’s opened its doors near the beachfront at Beach 112 Street in December of 1898. The Sisters of St. Joseph were glad to finally leave their storefront place on Fifth Avenue in Rockaway Park (now Beach 116 Street). To the east of their new building were the St. George Children’s Cottages and the Sanitarium for Hebrew Children.

By 1906 St. Malachy’s Home was bursting at the seams caring for 50 orphans, and tragedy struck three years later, when a fire took the lives of seven boys.

The orphanage closed its doors in 1943, sent the remaining children to other locations, and became the St. Joseph High School for Girls.

In 1959, the old building was demolished, and the new Stella Maris High School for Girls was constructed. The building still occupies the site.

Today’s Historical View shows no public boardwalk on the oceanfront going east to Beach 109 Street, from Beach 112 Street in the foreground. Each children’s institution had its own boardwalk on its beachfront.

In 1905, the year of this photo, the low-to-the-sand Rockaway Park boardwalk was rebuilt from Beach 112 Street to Beach 121 Street. The present boardwalk came in 1923, from Beach 109 Street to Beach 126 Street, and was connected to the rest of the boardwalk at Beach 109 Street by a ramp.

Beyond the fence at the background center is Chaffee’s Tent City, Kreuger’s Sea Beach Inn, and the Tent City Pavilion buildings.

Two groups or classes of orphans are posing for the photographer and I believe that the nun seen standing on the boards in the distance, may be the mother superior! (Watch it kids!).

All the structures shown on the left are on the beachfront where the east end of the big hotel at Rockaway Park once stood. The Hotel Imperial, closed from 1880 to 1889, was finally torn down and sold for second hand lumber.

If anyone is still around who lived in the home as a child, can you please drop us a line as to life in the home.

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