2012-05-25 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

The Fountain, Elstone Park, Far Rockaway, Long Island
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

After William Trist Bailey failed in his attempt to develop his land enterprise at Bayswater in Far Rockaway, he was heavily in debt and up to his ears in lawsuits by creditors – which included his wife! The reason for his failure was said to be his disturbance of a Native American burial site when he excavated the foundation for the Bayswater Hotel, near the present Harbour Court, off Westbourne Avenue, in the present Bayswater section of the Far Rockaway.

The hotel and surrounding property were sold, and developed as the Elstone Park section. The hotel, formerly Bailey’s Bayswater House, became Elstone Park Hotel. Bailey died after he saw someone else succeed in developing his dream at Bayswater.

In the heart of the Elstone Park development, Summit Drive, the present Grenada Place was cut from Mott Avenue to Mott Basin in the north side of Elstone Park section. At about halfway, a beautiful fountain circle was constructed, in a way that vehicles could go around, sort of like a traffic circle. Large buildings were built on both sides of the fountain, which I bet had a prime price attached!

Today’s historical view shows the fountain circle in about 1912, with Mott Basin in the background. The fountain construction is long gone, and no one seems to know when and by whom it was removed. Can somebody enlighten us at Historical Views?

Here is another point of interest to ponder. W.T.Bailey was warned not to disturb the Native American burial site, and move the hotel, to honor the graces and protect them. It was said that the bones were friable, and the age could not be determined, but that was an indicator of antiquity. There was a lot of romanticism in the story, that stated that the fountain was the site of the great council fires of the Rockaways, etc. The institutions to which items were sent, you guessed it, have no record or knowledge of ever receiving same. Was Bailey cursed by the Native American spirits? Hmmm!

Far Rockaway newspapers reported that the statuary was stolen in the winter of 1912, but no follow-up article was found!

If You have Any Old Photos or Historical Information About The Rockaways

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