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Get a Rare Look Inside 350-Year-Old Queens Home and Backyard Cemetery

By Katie Honan | October 29, 2014 2:12pm | Updated on October 31, 2014 5:38pm
 The Lent-Riker-Smith Homestead was built in 1665 and has been renovated by the current owner.
Tour the Gardens and Gazebo of Oldest Private Home in Queens
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EAST ELMHURST — One of the oldest homes in Queens is opening its doors for a tour of its refurbished walls and elaborate gardens, as well as an ancient cemetery in the yard.

The Lent-Riker-Smith Homestead was built in 1665 by Abraham Riker, an early settler of what was then New Amsterdam, according to the home's current owner. The family's name is also borne by nearby Rikers Island.

It's not the oldest home in Queens — that honor belongs to the Bowne House in Flushing — but it is the oldest private residence in the borough, since owner Marion Duckworth Smith still lives there.

She'll host a tour of the home at 78-03 19th Road on Saturday, Nov. 1 at 3 p.m., showing off the Riker burial ground, which houses the remains of 132 family descendants as well as the restored living area in the house and outdoor gardens, including a gazebo and a workshop designed to look like a gingerbread house.

Smith, a photographer, and her husband Michael began restoring the home in 1980, according to the site. She first saw it on their second date, when he brought her back to show her the old cemetery in the yard. 

Michael died in 2010 but Marion Smith continues to work on the home and host the occasional tour.

"From the moment I met Michael, and saw that house, it was a labor of love," Smith said on her website.

Tickets are $25 and can be paid at the door with cash or check. The gate to the home on 78-03 19th Road in East Elmhurst will open at 3 p.m., and interested guests are encouraged to RSVP to info@rikerhome.com.