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Community Board Chairman tells historians its too late to help in battle to save 140-year-old house

May 18, 2017 By Jason Cohen

Local historians who are seeking the community board’s support to save a 140-year-old Astoria house were told by its chairman Tuesday that it was too late for the board to help.

Historians are looking to save the Dulcken House, located at 31-07 31st Avenue, from being bulldozed by a developer who has filed plans to demolish it and build a six-story building.

Joseph Risi, chairman of Community Board 1, was sympathetic of the historians’ cause to save the house, once home to famed composer Ferdinand Quentin Dulcken, but said that it was too late for the board to help.

“We support preserving structures in our community,” Risi said at Community Board 1’s monthly meeting Tuesday. However, he added, “I think we should be proactive, rather than reactive and not wait for the wrecking ball to come.”

Historians first became concerned about the building’s fate when local attorney George Hrisikopoulos, who purchased the house for $1.4 million in 2015, filed plans in March to develop it.

In March, the Greater Astoria Historical Society submitted a request with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to save the house based on its historical significance. The request was rejected April 3.

The LPC dismissed the request on the basis that there had been too many alterations to the house over the years. Upon rejection, the Historical Society filed an amended request trying to save it on the basis of its cultural significance.

Neil Herdan, a member of the historical society, told the board Tuesday that the house should be preserved given its significance to the neighborhood despite it being in need of repair and the alterations.

Bob Singleton, the executive director of the historical society, expressed his frustrations and told the board the house should be a tourist destination.

“We have a problem here in Astoria,” he exclaimed. “We must ask why the Dulcken House is not a tourist destination generating revenue for the Astoria community?”

Singleton still believes that if the community board and city council throw their support behind the house and it can be saved.

Despite his objections, Hrisikopoulos is free to go ahead with his development if he obtains all the standard permits needed from the Building Departments. Currently, he is not required to get the greenlight from the LPC in order to demolish the house.

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Alesandrina Rocca Anderson

Sadly, even being granted a historical building doesn’t ensure its safety. The Smith home located at 25-28 14th street was deemed an historic home by the original owner. After his passing it was sold multiple times and finally was destroyed by a fire. The then owner replaced it with a multi family apartment house.

Poparoo 46

It’s not like jay z was born There. Or diddy. So stupid. The people who want to keep this house probably remember it from when they were kids maaaaaaaaaan.


It was actually previous owned by a Ms L Browne, 88 years old who sold it. Only one resident left!!!


I am sure the previous owner is happy that someone paid him 1.4 million for his home. He would of got close to half if it was deemed a historical home and no significant alterations could be made. No one is going to pay that much without major alternating renovations in mind for this place and area. And no private buyer would buy it to restore it back to its originally glory here in Astoria. Astoria has seen an increase in market values because of private developers and those looking to make a profit by renting every unit out. Its not a place anymore where private well to do owners choose to live with their families. The average working family can not afford to buy and your upper middle class families are buying in the suburbs. Therefore, paying a significant amount (especially for 1-2 family homes) to restore and live in is very rare for buyers to do here. Its a trend that may slow down if there ever is a decline in renters.

Greater Astoria Historical Society

For the record we notified the community years ago in this local publication that has a 10,000 copy print run. It seems the movers and shakers don’t read stuff like this because everyone we talked to said they did not read this ….

It is interesting on what Astoria Post thinks of the loss of an Astoria performance space, Astoria education space, and an Astoria tourism destination space vs the gain for one person who has been in the community a few years.


Why would anyone read that ? I’ve seen that paper in the entrance to the library and never knew what it was.

This does not seem like a good way to notify the community . You need to hit up all the social media sites , forums etc .


The historical society should perhaps consider if it is possible to file a lawsuit and get an injunction from a court. Start asking for $ donations. They should also negotiate with the owner. It’s a really lousy location for an apartment building anyway. I walked by this week and it was so loud, almost next to the tracks there.

There are so many buildings with character being torn down in Astoria, it would be great if the historical society and other groups became more involved in this – seeking designations before disasters like this start to happen – or even purchase properties themselves. Of course, money raising would be important for that.

Greater Astoria Historical Society

This is something the entire Astoria community must do – the Astoria community board, the Astoria elected officials, AND the Astoria Historical Society working together for our neighborhood.

We fighting for places like this. We get no support from the Astoria elected officials. Open question is the two are related. We have calls out to them to discuss this but to date no takers. We are patient.

Therefore, there is no money for a lawsuit.


He does have a point. People should have identified it for preservation years ago. You can’t wait until after someone pays $1.4M for it and then tell him he can’t do anything with it.


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