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29-35 North Station Plaza



Surveyor's Name: Michele Boyd

Date of survey: July/August 2000

Building Address: 29-35 North Station Plaza

Block/Lot: 197/124, 24, 123, 23

Building type: Commercial building

Owner's name:

29 and 31: Dorothy Medina
33: Fred Yee
35: Sui Yang Wat/Dunkin Donuts

Building name: NA

Historical name: Robertson Block

Date of construction: c. 1870

Architect: Unknown

Building dimensions: 150’ X 200’

No. of floors: Two and basement

Decorative features: Cornice brackets, fishscale shingles

Siding material(s): Wood, brickface, stucco

Roof style: Flat

Roofing materials: Unknown

No. of entrances & placement: One at front (south elevation) and rear (north elevation) of each building

Chimneys & placement: Four interior

Architectural integrity: Low; No. 35 has been severely altered and storefronts refaced

Architectural style: Victorian

Description: Two-part commercial buildings, originally constructed with stores at ground level and apartments above. This form is common in areas that developed along rail lines, and these buildings are immediately north of the train station. The LIRR was extended to Great Neck in 1860.

According to a photograph in the collection of the VGNP, the ground floor shops were originally fronted by open porches. Over time, these were closed in to expand the useable commercial space. A deeply bracketed wooden cornice marks the flat roofline. The upper stories are sided with a wood shingles in a fishscale pattern. The second story of each building has a bay window at its eastern side. These have the effect of modulating the roofline. The corner building (No. 35) has a mansard roof on its projecting bay, giving the appearance of a tower at the corner. All these features can be seen in photographs of the building from the 1920s. The first story facades, however, have been drastically altered.

Historical information: According to the 1900 census for Great Neck, the Robertson family was the owner of this property and made a living as merchants. A 1925 article in the North Hempstead Record reporting drastic increases in the value of commercial property described the sale of these buildings, owned by Albert Robertson, as well as of an adjoining two-story building to the west owned by his brother John (not extant).

On the 1909 Sanborn Map, John’s building was used as an office and a bakery and Albert’s buildings, some of which were vacant, housed offices. The corner building, now No. 35, was vacant on the first floor, but its second floor was used as a lodge room. By 1919, the Sanborn Map shows that John’s building, which by then adjoined the Mayfair Playhouse on the other side, was all offices. Albert’s buildings housed the post office (at what is now No. 29), a printing press, and a cigar store. The Red Cross was located on the first floor of what is now No. 35, and the lodge room remained on the second floor.

The 1925 NHR article described the sale of Albert’s buildings to Herman Stuetzer for $8,000 and of John’s building to Joseph Homann for $75,000. Stuetzer and Homann were local businessmen. At the time of the sale, John’s building included a real estate office and an A&P grocery store, and Nos. 29-35 housed merchants at the ground floor—Morris Minkin, a tailor; Alfred Wohlk, a painter and decorator; and B. Komarek, a cobbler—and apartments above. The corner building was occupied by a lunch room on the first floor and by a Christian Science Reading Room on the second floor.

The Robertson brothers must have been the original owners of these buildings, as the NHR reported that the property “had never before been offered for sale.” Interestingly, the article also indicated that Homann and Stuetzer had immediately resold their holdings to a “corporation at a tremendous advance in price.” By the time the Sanborn Map was drawn again in 1926, most of the commercial properties were vacant.

For many years No. 35 (now Dunkin Donuts) was owned by Jack Brooks, who operated a restaurant and bar known as Brooks’ Club Tavern. In the 1930s, Brooks’ served a “Sunday Hunt Breakfast” at 1 pm. The club tavern’s logo is visible in the building’s stained-glass window.

The first building in Albert’s block, what would now be No. 27, has been replaced by a more modern structure.

Sources:

VGNP Building Department file.

Great Neck, Nassau County (New York: Sanborn Map Company, 1909 and 1919) (New York Public Library, microfilm reel 37).

1900 Census of Great Neck (Great Neck Public Library).

“Value of Business Property Has Increased Three Thousand Per Cent In the Last Thirteen Years,” North Hempstead Record, 25 February 1925, p. 1.

Historical photos of Great Neck, Collection of Village of Great Neck Plaza, N.Y. (Village Hall).

Devah Spear and Gill Spear, Book of Great Neck (Great Neck, New York: Devah and Gill Spear, 1936), 143.



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