This is the first of four awards that Leo. F. Kearns would win for their facilities. A. F. Meissner was primarily a church architect and the Kearns family new him from local Catholic circles. But here he did something completely different with a Frank Lloyd-esque one story structure using a variety of materials to create a design unlike anything else in Queens or even NYC. The apocryphal story is that one of the Kearns brothers suggested this basic design to him when an earlier three-story Colonial Revival design was too cost prohibitive. Meisser’s design for the second Kearns branch also followed this lead. The Richmond Hill branch won a second award in 1964 for an alteration by Raymond Irrera to add an elevator enclosure. The addition is almost completely indistinguishable from the original structure. Today the Kearns family still own the building and use it for their popular funeral business.
Another somewhat interchangeable brick apartment tower, the L-shaped Park Briar is slightly discernible for its angled orientation and central entrance set back behind a small landscaped entrance plaza. The original glass fronted balconies have been replaced by white metal.
A true standout among the award winners, this design is as striking as when it was originally unveiled. The corner bank gleams with an exterior of stainless steel and granite. Floor to ceiling windows illuminate the three-story height space. Patrons enter through a curved corner entrance up a short flight of stairs. The interior the original mosaic floors and teakwood walls although the mural featuring Forest Hills has been lost. The bank is surprisingly unlike most of architect Philip Birnbaum’s other designs; he was primarily known for his large apartment building towers in brick.
This honorable mention is mostly a minimally landscaped plot. Con Edison used evergreen trees and shrubs to shield the substation equipment from the surrounding residential neighborhood. Today the evergreens have grown substantially with no branches at the bottom, making the equipment considerably more visible behind smaller shrubbery. In addition, the neighborhood has continued to expand, with houses and a later mid-century Jewish Center directly abutting the Con Ed property. This makes the need to hide this equipment possibly less of a necessity than when the area was more remote and bucolic.
St. Theresa’s Church remains an imposing presence in this relatively low-rise and residential section of Woodside. The design is traditionally Romanesque with little in the way of modern detailing. The materials used are buff brick with limestone detailing and a tile roof. The interior includes marble and limestone and is completely fireproof. The neighboring school closed in 2005.