2012-07-20 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Far Rockaway, New York
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

At a recent postcard auction in New York City, there were many samples of cards in a section labeled old church views. Upon fingering through the hundreds of well preserved antique postals, my eyes fell on a card that was titled, “Catholic Church, Far Rockaway, L.I.

As soon as I spied the name, I took it out quickly, because I knew right away what church it was … St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church on Central Avenue, in Far Rockaway, Queens, New York City.

St. Mary’s Church, the oldest Roman Catholic house of worship in the area, dates back to 1847. Having begun with a small wooden building, the church had grown and expanded in size, and changed architectural faces several times, until a disastrous fire consumed the structure in the mid-1970s.

The news of the old church’s destruction became a world event, and many contributions came in from many points on the globe, for the rebuilding costs. Several years later a new St. Mary’s was completed and opened for services, in a beautiful modern structure on Central Avenue, in Far Rockaway, Queens.

The old card I found at the postcard auction is reproduced in Historical Views today, and is what St. Mary’s looked like in the early 1900s.

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