Roy MacKay (author)
Queens boasts a rich history that includes dozens of poorly publicized but historically impressive houses. A mix of farmsteads, mansions, seaside escapes, and architecturally significant community dwellings, these homes were owned by America’s forefathers, nouveau riche industrialists, Wall Street tycoons, and prominent African American entertainers from the Jazz Age. Rufus King, a senator and the youngest signer of the US Constitution, operated a large family farm in Jamaica, while piano manufacturer extraordinaire William Steinway lived in a 27-room, granite and bluestone Italianate villa in Astoria. Local musicians include Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, and Lena Horne. Through more than 200 photographs, my book, “Historic Houses of Queens,” explores the borough’s most notable residences—their architecture, owners, surrounding neighborhoods, peculiarities, and even their fates as some vanished due to financial problems or fires.