“Historic Houses of Queens” by Rob MacKay is an in-depth history of notable Queens homes that examines their architecture, interior design, surrounding neighborhoods, peculiarities, and personalities.
His interest in writing this book grew after he became a trustee of the Queens Historical Society in 2018.
“The 20th century brought even more construction and inhabitants, including many African-Americans, Eastern European Jews, Italians, Asians, and Latinos,” said MacKay. “Phenomena from this period include Beaux Arts architecture, government-run housing projects, restrictive covenants, sidewalk driveways, and McMansions.”
MacKay visited Addisleigh Park, where many prominent African Americans lived, such as Jackie Robinson, James Brown, WEB Dubois, civil rights leader Percy Ellis Sutton, as well as many famous jazz musicians.
“Queens was very open to African-American homeowners, and the borough has a middle-class African-American history dating back to when Flushing was an end stop on the Underground Railroad,” he said.
McKay collected over 200 images for the book, which explores several landmarked districts and more than 50 significant houses, with the oldest dating back to the mid-1660s.
“The photo on the cover of the book was actually a never-before-seen picture of a house that used to be in the Lent-Riker-Smith Homestead that resides near the oldest house in Queens,” said McKay.
MacKay is also director of Public Relations, Marketing and Tourism for the Queens Economic Development Corporation.
“Because of my job, some of the houses are museums where I was able to talk to the museum directors,” he said. “Most of the images came from the subjects, but Queens Public Library also provided many images.
“I reached out to different people and it’s nice to meet people that love history,” McKay added. “It was nice to see humans helping other humans.”
To purchase “Historic House of Queens” visit arcadiapublishing.com.