Sterling Bank to close Queens Blvd. branch
by Michael Perlman
Aug 07, 2018 | 3693 views | 0 0 comments | 110 110 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One of earliest commercial buildings in Forest Hills is currently home to Sterling National Bank. Located at 108-01 Queens Boulevard, it was built in 1920.

However, as plans are underway to close the branch on August 28, the future of this classic Greek Revival style building may be in jeopardy if a tenant can't be found that will preserve the building.

According to Consumer Banking President Brian Edwards, the bank will maintain two other branches at 63-72 108th Street and 97-33 Queens Boulevard.

Nearly a century ago, the location was home to the Forest Hills Masonic Temple. On October 9, 1920, a cornerstone was laid for Forest Hills Lodge No. 946 of the Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York by Grand Master Robert H. Robinson.

On November 16, 1920, the Masons officially moved into their new site after previously meeting at Arcanum Hall in Elmhurst.

In early 1919, for less than $10,000, Lodge No. 946 acquired a 64 by 150-foot lot on Queens Boulevard at what was originally known as Gown Street.

Stone Doric pilasters, along with a stone frieze, quoins, and lintels, provide contrast from the brick façade with its large arched and rectangular windows.

Plans called for a bowling alley and kitchen in the basement, an auditorium and community hall on the first floor, with the Forest Hills Masonic Temple housed on the second floor. One of the most engaging features would be a state-of-the-art organ in a loft.

The Masons undertook the financing of the property, including the temple, at an investment of over $50,000. The charter committee consisted of Dickran M. Sarkisian, John Miller, Robert Whyte, J.M. Pahl, Andrew Galbraith, Adam Treu, and V. E. Engelbach. In 1924, there were 187 members.

Throughout the decades, the building hosted a number of community event. “Scandals at the Shore” was presented by the Lehbog Circle of the Silver Cross Day Nursery, which consisted of 30 active and six associated female members. The Forest Hills Choral Club, led by Bruno Huhn, offered a concert at the Masonic Temple in 1923.

In the Forest Hills Theatre, over 400 participants attended the Fashion Revue and Frolic of the Forest Hills Masons, a two-day event held in 1928. A ballroom dance at the Masonic Temple followed, and proceeds helped furnish the temple.

In September 1932, the Forest Hills Jewish Center held High Holiday services on site. The Bath Sheba Chapter, Order of Eastern Star coordinated a Dutch supper and card party in 1945. That same year, the Trinity Triangle, Daughters of Eastern Star held its Annual Barn Dance.

All expenses were paid by the brothers of the Forest Hills Lodge annually for a Thanksgiving dinner and movie for children of a local orphanage.

On February 1, 1929, Boulevard Bank and Trust Company of Forest Hills, a member of the Forest Hills Board of Trade, moved into the building. D. M. Sarkisian of 30 Jewel Street was the founder and first vice president. Sarkisian, who was a veteran of the Spanish-American War and a WWI Army Captain, was also a trustee and elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Forest Hills.

On May 14, 1948, the Sterling Safe Deposit Company was granted authorization to open the Sterling National Bank & Trust Company.

Forest Hills Masonic Temple remained for decades at its original site and relocated approximately 50 years after its founding to 101-01 Metropolitan Avenue.

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