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City Again Refuses to Landmark Historic Elmhurst Home

By Katie Honan | November 25, 2015 2:54pm | Updated on November 30, 2015 9:00am
 The cause of fire at the Elmhurst home is still under investigation.
The cause of fire at the Elmhurst home is still under investigation.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

ELMHURST — The push to landmark a historic home damaged in a suspicious fire has been rejected for the second time by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission, who said the home's historical elements were mostly destroyed by the blaze. 

The commission ruled this month that they would not change their mind about blocking a former farmhouse at 90-01 56th Ave., which dates back to the 1700s, from getting landmark status.

Members of the Newtown Civic Association, with support from area politicians, submitted the building for landmark consideration in October, following a fire at the home Sept. 8

They had support from area politicians and set up a petition to help keep the home from demolition from its new owners, who bought the home in August.

But officials at the LPC found that since the house had been altered before the fire, and was severely damaged because of it, it didn't warrant consideration it for landmark status.

The LPC denied it again after the group submitted it Nov. 20, ruling that based on the information, "the agency found that the property at 90-11 56th Ave. had been altered prior to the fire and that the fire damaged many of the remaining significant architectural features of the house, including the windows, dormers, and the door."

"The agency determined that, due to these alterations, the property does not merit further study at this time," the LPC wrote in a statement.

Marialena Giampino, from the Newtown Civic Association, said the LPC doesn't take Queens' history seriously, and the agency favors Brooklyn and Manhattan when it comes to registering landmarks.

Queens has 11 historic districts and 80 individual landmarks, while Brooklyn, by comparison, has 33 historic districts and more than 185 recognized landmarks.

"They're fighting against the neighborhood, we're trying to do good and make things better," she said. "They don't look at the whole picture, they're just using the fire as an excuse."

Before the home sold, Giampino said members of Newtown Civic approached a relative of the home's former owner to pursue landmarking, but that relative never followed through.

The home was purchased in August $2 million by a company formed last October called 90-56 L&Z Realty LLC, city records show.

No one was living in the home at the time of the fire, which the FDNY said they are still investigating, although it's considered "incendiary."

Giampino said her group is looking now to get the home recognized by the National Historic Trust for Historic Preservation.