FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM NOVEMBER 8, 2018 • THE QUEENS COURIER 11
Elmhurst nonprofi t submits landmark request for African burial ground
BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELLDOMENECH
Th e fi ght for survival continues for one
of the city’s oldest African burial grounds
now that a Request for Evaluation
has been submitted to the Landmarks
Th e Elmhurst Histories and Cemeteries
Preservations Society submitted the
request earlier this month as a step
towards keeping the piece of local and
national history from being buried underneath
a 55-foot-tall residential building.
On Sept. 13, the developing company
Song Liu fi led permits to develop
the fi ve story structure at 47-11 90th
Street, according to reports from the
Department of Building. If construction
where to take place a vital part of
American history could be wiped off the
“Th e right thing to do is to keep it a
burial ground and make it a memorial,”
said Marialena Giampino, president of
the Elmhurst Histories and Cemeteries
Preservations Society who said that since
the burial ground’s rediscovery in 2011,
when a developer unearthed the remains
of Martha Peterson otherwise known as
‘Th e Woman in the Iron Coffi n,” there
has been a battle with developers over
Currently, Song Liu sits at the corner
of Corona Avenue and 90th Street on the
odd shaped piece of land where the burial
ground is located right next to the its only
entrance, a driveway. Besides Song Liu,
houses line the three sides to the almost
Th e proposed structure would yield
88,500 square feet with 74,160 of those
square feet dedicated to residential use
and 5,000 for a ground-fl oor museum.
A total of 80 apartments would be created
with each being about 920 square
feet, and be rentals or condominiums.
Th e building will include parking for 30
vehicles and a recreational space on the
In 1828, on the site of the proposed
building, St. Mark’s American Methodist
Episcopal Church was founded one year
aft er enslaved people were emancipated
in New York City—35 years before
Photos courtesy of The Elmhurst Histories and Cemeteries Preservations Society
the Emancipation Proclamation. Newly
Freed African Americans quickly established
the congregation which eventually
evolved and two relocate three times. Th e
church still remains active today as the St.
Mark’s A.M.E Church in North Corona,
which is still responsible for the 310 bodies
still believed to be resting in the lot
hugged by highways.
Construction can only take place
when there has been an agreement
struck between Song Liu and St. Mark’s
AME Church of Corona, according to
Giampino. In order for Song Liu to be
able to touch the earth, the remains must
be properly removed and reburied. St.
Mark’s AME Church did not respond
to QNS request for comment about the
“It’s a very sad story,” said James
McMenamin, vice president of the
Elmhurst Histories and Cemeteries
Preservation Society. In 1928, aft er St.
Marks AME had to move to new location,
the City of New York refused to
grant the church permission to remove
the remains to their new location. Th e
burial ground was then mostly forgotten
and even written off of city maps, according
“Th e Pepsi Cola sign gets landmarked
and $1.9 million” was provided “to
save and restore the house next door
to Louis Armstrong” in Corona, said
McMenamin. “In the meantime we have
been trying to save this structure in elmhurst
and we have gotten zip.”
It remains unclear when the DOB and
the Landmark Commission will come to
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