Walking Tour Will Honor Rego Park’s 100th Anniversary
Celebrating The Centennial of A “Real Good” Community
How Rego Park Originated
Henry Schloh signing a check for Remo Hall , Courtesy of grandson Bruce Powell
By Michael Perlman | [email protected]
Local residents among citywide preservationists are ready to celebrate the centennial of Rego Park, a “REal GOod” community founded in 1923 by the Rego/Real Good Construction Company. One of the first planned commemorative activities this season will be a historic walking tour and presentation on October 21 from 11 AM to 1 PM.
The Historic Districts Council (HDC), the city’s largest advocate for preserving historic neighborhoods, is coordinating the event, which will tour sections of Queens Boulevard and Saunders Street, and other sites and stretches that will be a surprise. A spotlight will be on the 1920s and 1930s apartment buildings and single-family homes, as well as historic properties from later decades.
With recent increased development pressure, the community, including Rego-Forest Preservation Council, has been advocating for preservation of significant sites encompassing the Spanish Mission, Tudor, Georgian Colonial, and Art Deco styles, as well as rare modernist buildings. In 2020, the HDC honored Rego Park as a “Six to Celebrate” community meriting preservation.
The tour will be led by HDC Executive Director Frampton Tolbert, who founded Queens Modern, an online resource examining vernacular modernism in Queens. A presentation will also be delivered by this columnist, chairman of Rego-Forest Preservation Council, in memory of the honorable Marion Legler (1932 – 2023). She is a descendant of the Real Good Construction Company, and her Rego Park memories will be quoted.
To attend, registration is required: https://hdc.org/events/exploring-rego-park-on-its-100th-anniversary The meeting address will be announced online. General admission is $20, whereas the Friends of the HDC and senior rate is $15.
Rego Construction Co principals with signatures, circa mid-1920s, Courtesy of Bruce Powell
On October 14, 1923, The New York Times announced that Rego Construction Company was chartered for $75,000. When Rego Construction Company acquired farmland in Forest Hills West in 1923, Rego Park was named after their advertising slogan, “REal GOod Homes.” The founders immigrated from Germany and consisted of several principals, including president and builder Henry L. Schloh, and secretary, treasurer, builder, and president Charles I. Hausmann, as well as builder Joseph F. Thone. Other partners included Franz Muller and Hermann Timmerman.
The principals came upon farmland that was settled in the 17th century by Dutch and English farmers, followed by German and then Chinese famers who sold produce in Chinatown. The sole road was Remsen Lane (renamed 63rd Drive), which was named after the Remsen family farm.
New York Times readers from earlier developed sections of Queens and other boroughs learned about a new neighborhood. On March 25, 1925, they read, “Work will be started at once on the houses to be erected on the lots off Queens Boulevard, while the property fronting this 200-foot highway will be developed with modern, high-class apartment houses as soon as the parking and paving are completed.”
With a Bank of Manhattan Company loan, the firm developed of 525 eight-room single-family “Rego Homes,” railroad style Colonial frame houses with enclosed porches between 63rd Drive and Eliot Avenue along Saunders, Booth, Wetherole, and Austin Street, which sold for an approximate $7,500. Prospective buyers would call NEWtown 6432.
That was followed by the firm’s earliest and now largely intact apartment houses, which 70 families each called home; the Tudor-style Remo Hall (1927) at 61-40 Saunders Street, and the Spanish Mission-style Jupiter Court (1927) at 62-64 Saunders Street and Marion Court (1929) at 62-98 Saunders Street, designed by Constantinople native Benjamin Braunstein.
Remo Hall, 61-40 Saunders St adorned with banners circa 1927, Courtesy of the late Marion Legler
Jupiter Court circa 1927 by Times Square Photo Service, Courtesy of Bruce Powell, Henry Schloh’s grandson
Each building felt like a retreat for incoming residents, especially considering Marion Court’s grandeur and novelty accommodations and architecture. It boasts terra-cotta features depicting animals, leaded glass depictions of castles at the entryway’s transom windows, a wood-beamed lobby, a mantel, radiators with ornate courtly figurines, and lobby doors leading to a garden. At the roof garden, residents would recreate and keep cool come summer. For two to four rooms at Remo Hall and Jupiter Court, rentals cost $46 and up.
At the time, a trolley line existed along Queens Boulevard and the Rego Park Tennis Club on Saunders Street and 62nd Road circa 1928. The firm also oversaw the paving of roads and elevation of streets, developed the earliest shops on Queens Boulevard, was instrumental behind the ribbon-cutting of the 63rd Drive LIRR station in 1928 with Mayor Jimmy Walker, and introduced the community’s first public school, P.S. 139 in 1929. Despite the firm’s great achievements, it later folded during the Great Depression.
Henry Ludwig Schloh, a native of Ottersberg, Germany, was the Rego Construction Company’s major stockholder. He immigrated in 1907, resided in Brooklyn, and then at 104-74 109th Street in Richmond Hill circa 1921.
“When the Depression hit, my grandfather refused to go bankrupt, so a lot of the money invested in his developments came from family and friends,” said Bruce Powell, Schloh’s grandson, in a 2013 interview. “According to my mother, he didn’t buy a new suit for 10 years, since he tried to keep everything afloat.”
Schloh’s grandson Eric Kvashay of Ventura, California is proud of his family’s legacy. “My mother, Dorathea Schloh, was the youngest of her siblings and the only one born in America. She used to talk about my grandfather. He didn’t cut corners when building or inflate prices. When the Great Depression hit, he didn’t evict the tenants when they couldn’t pay. Consequently, he lost most of his fortune at that time.” Reflecting upon the past century, he said, “It is ‘Real Good Construction’ and ‘Real Good’ value.”
Rego Park Community Club Auxiliary with ‘Real Good Homes,’ Courtesy of the late Marion Legler
Schloh also served as an officer of the board of trustees of the Fairdeal Construction Company, which also played a role in Rego Park development. He wore many hats as members of the Queens Grand Jury Association, Queensboro Elks Club, Almania Masonic Lodge of Ridgewood, and the Rego Park Community Club. He was also a principal of the Schloh Insurance Company, a trustee of the Hamburg Savings Bank of Ridgewood and the Citizens Bank of Brooklyn.
According to Queens Historian Jeff Gottlieb, Schloh was raised in a management environment at his family’s Schloh Hotel, and pursued hotel administration in Berlin and Paris. After immigrating, he managed an ice cream parlor, owned a Nevada silver mine, manufactured patent leather shoes, and even managed a boxer. Besides developing in Rego Park, he used his power of persuasion to enable investments in his plan to erect houses in Richmond Hill and Hollis.
With a humanitarian spirit, he also donated a parcel at 88-11 62nd Road (formerly Jupiter Avenue) and Wetherole Street for the Rego Park Community Club circa 1925, as well as land for the first Our Saviour Lutheran Church on 63rd Drive and Wetherole Street in 1927. He also made history as a passenger on the first run of the IND subway on December 30, 1936.
“With the completion of the Queens Boulevard subway now under construction, that section must continue to gain in valuation and in development.” Schloh told The New York Times on March 9, 1930. That came true, as other firms developed buildings along Saunders Street and Queens Boulevard, such as the three-building Saunders Gardens complex featuring a private park, “The Circle,” as well as the Oxford-Cambridge apartment group. A model of urban planning south of the Long Island Railroad is the Rego Park Crescents, named after alphabetical concentric semicircular roads. Particularly of significance are Tudor rowhouses, known as the Rodman & English developments.
Marion Ave now 63rd Ave with Rego Homes development, May 29, 1925, Courtesy of the late Marion Legler
As for Charles I. Hausmann, he immigrated from Germany to New York in 1894, and last resided at 88-06 Parsons Boulevard in Jamaica. Besides being a Rego Construction Company principal, he was a member of the Masonic order and the Odd Fellows and Freeport Lodge of Elks. He passed away in 1932 at age 56.
The late Marion Legler of New Hyde Park was the granddaughter of builder Joseph F. Thone (1870 – 1955) who resided 63-35 Bourton Street in Rego Park. Her home address was at 61-30 Booth Street, which is now demolished. She revisited Rego Park in 2016 and shared extensive memories with this columnist inside the lobby of Marion Court, which she was named after, also in collaboration with the nearby Marion Avenue (now 63rd Avenue).
In September 2022, she discussed the importance of accomplishing preservation success stories in Rego Park: “I believe in those early days; much thought went into preserving history. You can see that in the care that was taken when choosing architectural design. I am sure it was thought that these buildings would be in use for many years. Try your best to keep it preserved for future generations. Many good people gave much time and thought into what they prayed would be a ‘Real Good’ place for families to live for generations to come. Only those who are here now, can be a part of that prayer. It is in your hands. Don’t let those good people down.” In 2016, upon touring Rego Park, she especially marveled over the earliest properties and said, “My grandfather knew how to build.”
Maine resident Carole A. MacDonald, a church secretary and board member, whose maternal grandpa was Henry Schloh. She said, “Rego Park is part of my family history. Realizing that Rego Park is preparing to celebrate 100 years makes me feel old. I have memories of many visits with my parents to Marion Court, where one of my mother’s aunts lived.” At the time, she and her immediate family lived in Freeport, Long Island, and her grandparents still resided in Richmond Hill.
MacDonald reminisced, “When it comes to Marion Court, I remember a large lobby and stepping inside someone’s apartment that had a rather large sunken living room. Aunt Dottie and Uncle Hank Kvashay lived there at one time with their three oldest children, before moving to Florida and then Buffalo and Arizona. I also recall going up to the roof garden.”
Marion Court with roof garden, 1928 rendering, Architect Benjamin Braunstein, Courtesy of Queens Chamber of Commerce
She also found it intriguing how Marion Court at six stories, was the only building to have an elevator, adding to its novelty features, whereas Remo Hall and Jupiter Court at four stories had no elevator.
North Carolina resident Richard Delaney (born 1936), was raised at the historic Holland House in Forest Hills, and would occasionally explore Rego Park buildings in their heyday. “Having grown up in the area, I will say that community interest and commitment are extremely important to preserve the wonderful heritage, particularly from an architectural viewpoint. It would be a shame to see its distinctive buildings replaced by non-descript buildings.”