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Forest Hills residents unveil bronze plaque commemorating premier co-op building as historical site

Jun. 6, 2023 By Carlotta Mohamed

Community members on June 4 unveiled a bronze plaque recognizing The Park Briar, a premier residential cooperative building in Forest Hills, as a historical site with architectural and cultural significance in the community. 

The Park Briar bronze plaque unveiling ceremony at 110-45 Queens Blvd., was coordinated by Michael Perlman, chair of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council, and Tammy Jacobi, board president of The Park Briar. 

The newly designed 16×20-inch bronze plaque, which features history, an architectural description, and reasons why The Park Briar is a unique and desirable address, also consists of design elements that Perlman sampled from the facade and lobby. 

The Park Briar historic site bronze plaque.Photo by Michael Perlman

According to Perlman, the building is an “art modern meets mid-century modern treasure.” 

“Whimsical winding pathways with a colorful landscaped front draw one’s eye to streamlined brickwork with floral motifs on curved and angular facades with large terraces, offering a striking appearance,” Perlman said. “An Art Deco lobby features rectangular columns, moldings, steps and a balcony with detailed brass railings, an illuminated geometric dome, and an ensemble of beige and brown terrazzo floors bearing a motif. Near the elevator is an Art Deco mail chute, a residential rarity.” 

Photo by Donghui Zang

The Park Briar is a superb example of soundproof and fireproof reinforced concrete construction, Perlman said. Early marketable features were 18 layouts, 13×26 living rooms, railed dining alcoves, a master TV antenna, GE automatic dishwashers, a 24-hour doorman and a heated underground garage.

“Today, The Park Briar sets high standards as a luxury co-operative with preserved architecture, a most scenic Queens Boulevard landscape, and neighborliness,” Perlman said. 

The Park Briar was completed in 1952 by architect Lawrence Rothman and developers Zachary, Larry and Martin Fisher, of the Fisher Brothers.

Fisher brothers Zachary, Larry and Martin.Photo courtesy of the Fisher Brothers

That year, it received a bronze plaque in the Apartment Houses class at the Queens Chamber of Commerce’s annual building awards competition, according to the Park Briar’s website. Later on, the Park Briar would be managed by the Trump family and Trump Management Inc. Park Briar became a co-op in the early 1980’s. 

The Queens Chamber of Commerce 1952 Awards Competition.Photo courtesy of the Fisher Brothers

Jamie Rose Fisher, the great-granddaughter of Larry Fisher, who co-founded Fisher Brothers, said it was an honor to commemorate the Park Briar and unveil the historic bronze plaque from the Rego-Forest Preservation Council. 

“The Park Briar holds a significant place in the history of our family’s legacy, and it was an honor to pay tribute to this remarkable building and its rich history,” said Fisher, director of Public Relations at Fisher Brothers. 

According to Jacobi, the Park Briar is the first building in Forest Hills to have a bronze plaque. 

The Park Briar circa 1960s.Photo courtesy of the Fisher Brothers

“There have been a lot of changes made, new amenities and it has all been very good,” said Jacobi, who has been residing in the building since 1984. “The nine-story building itself is a concrete solid building and it’s very spacious for our 166 shareholders. It’s unique and it’s all original.” 

Perlman, who founded the Forest Hills & Rego Park Historic Plaque Initiative, met the Park Briar board in December 2021 and presented his idea for a plaque to commemorate the Park Briar. According to Perlman, the plaque became a reality due to a team effort of passionate residents who funded it.

Frank Di Bella of Academy Engraving, who designs the Tony Awards and plaques for other historic sites, brought the concept into reality. 

According to Di Bella, he was glad to create a tablet that would complement and enhance the building’s history and beautiful architecture. 

“Initially when asked to come up with a paragraph, I drew a blank. There’s not much to say about cast bronze or etched bronze, it’s pretty basic stuff. You give me the wording, you choose a font and a border style from a catalog, we cast it, and six weeks later the tablet is done,” said Perlman, who read a statement on behalf of Di Bella. “But then you showed me images of the architectural features of these buildings and what made them so unique and it interested me, and I thought why don’t we try to incorporate those features into some kind of decoration specific to that building.”

A group of attendees at the Park Briar lobby.Photo by Michael Perlman

Perlman said his goal is to commemorate and help preserve a wide range of historic buildings and stretches of the “cherished” neighborhood, to educate the community and to prevent unfortunate scenarios of demolition. 

“Our built environment and architectural details offer a history lesson and convey a distinctive aura. Without buildings such as the Park Briar, which residents are proud to call home, we would inhabit a predictable Anytown USA. I envision a heritage trail of plaques,” Perlman said. 

In the near future, a bronze plaque unveiling ceremony will be held at the nearby Tudor-style Sutton Hall on Ascan Avenue, according to Perlman.

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