Community members hope to save what they call the "last historic structure" in their neighborhood. NY1's Shannan Ferry filed this report.
It may be hard to believe now, but this abandoned home on 56th Avenue was once the foundation of a bustling colonial community.
Civic leaders tell us some of Elmhurst's earliest settlers lived here when the area was still called "Newtown."
"It's a centerpiece of a farmhouse that at one point encompassed about 40 acres here in Elmhurst," said Robert Valdes Clausell, who is a member of the Newtown Civic Association.
"The land and the house were owned by three separate dutch families - the Brinckerhoff's, the Brooms and the Suydams," said Majorie Melikian, who is a historian.
That's why Newtown Civic Association started this online petition calling on the city to landmark the property and turn it into a museum. So far, it has about 700 signatures but they're facing several several obstacles.
City records show Tu Kang Yang owns the property, and "Steven Kuo Architect" filed an application for full demolition of the structure last month. Neither the owner nor architect returned our request for comment. Plus a September fire damaged the property. While officials say the cause is considered incendiary, it's still under investigation.
"Why get rid of something that's been here for so long, and been in this community for so long, when we can save it we can preserve it?" asked Marialena Giampino, from the Newtown Civic Association.
The residents have also gained the support of several local elected officials including City Councilman Daniel Dromm and State Senator Tony Avella.
"We've lost so much of the history of Elmhurst due to development, and we're trying to prevent that from happening," said Dromm.
A landmarks preservation commission spokesperson says in part "the agency found that the property at 90-11 56th Avenue had been altered prior to the fire, and that the fire damaged many of the remaining significant architectural features of the house, including the windows, dormers, and the doors."
"There is some fire damage, but it's easily fixed, and 90 percent maybe 95 percent of the building is still there," said Avella.
The LPC maintains "the property does not merit further study at this time."
Residents tell us they'll continue fighting.