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In Queens, A 1960s Chapel Worth Preserving

July 2, 2020

Rego-Forest Preservation Council, an advocacy organization for the Rego Park and Forest Hills neighborhoods of Queens, recently launched a campaign to secure landmark designation for Parkside Memorial Chapel, a striking Modern building at 98-60 Queens Boulevard, in Queens, NY. The structure, designed in 1961, incorporates unusual star-patterned concrete screens and façade detailing as its primary exterior decoration, an inspiration from ”the Sinai desert of Moses, the Israelites, and the Ten Commandments,” as a 1964 ad in the New York Times reads. The building incorporates a passage between the concrete screen and its primary, mostly glass facade that leads to an abstract metal sculpture and fountain rising the full height of the building. The architects were Henry Sandig, who emigrated from Vienna and worked at several firms including Emery Roth & Sons, and Robert Kasindorf, an architect most known for the design of a metal hoop chair from 1953.

Earlier in 2020, the company that owns Parkside merged with another local funeral home, leaving the future of this Modern building in doubt. Michael Perlman, founder of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council, hopes the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission will move swiftly to protect this prominent example of mid-century commercial vernacular architecture in Queens, where very few examples of Modern buildings are protected. “This year, Rego Park was selected as one of the Six To Celebrate communities by the Historic Districts Council,” notes Perlman, “but this recognition comes as the very means of celebration may be eliminated by developers who are eyeing many distinctive and historic sites that merit landmark status.” DOCOMOMO US/New York Tri-State supports this effort and will provide updates.

Parkside Chapel, exterior view, Henry Sandig and Robert Kasindorf, 1961, Queens, NY. Photo: Michael Perlman.
Parkside Chapel, sculpture fountain, Henry Sandig and Robert Kasindorf, 1961, Queens, NY. Photo: Michael Perlman.
Parkside Chapel, screen detail, Henry Sandig and Robert Kasindorf, 1961, Queens, NY. Photo: Michael Perlman.
Parkside Chapel, passage, Henry Sandig and Robert Kasindorf, 1961, Queens, NY. Photo: Michael Perlman.