The cobblestone exterior is made of stones dating back 100 years. In addition to the floors, an indoor fireplace on the first floor has been restored. This antiquity is juxtaposed with modern amenities, such as a cappuccino machine, computers and a dental laser center.
The converted 2-1/2-story house was built in 1905, combining colonial-revival style with the Arts and Crafts movement, and is on its way to becoming Bayside's second landmark after the Lawrence Cemetery on 216th Street and 42nd Avenue.
The house has been put on the calendar by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission, and Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said he does not anticipate any obstacles.
The house's owner, Dr. Gary Bram, has spent eight years restoring it to "every minute detail."
Even the furniture in Gram's office evokes the styles of the early 20th century. The upstairs apartments have the original floors and pinewood kitchen cabinets, and the modern bathroom is kept in the two-family house's original structure.
"The maintenance of this house is the restoration," Bram said, who was not aware of the responsibility and expense the house would require when he first bought it. Now he is committed to its restoration.
"I didn't want to change anything," said Bram, a resident of Woodbury, L.I. "I wasn't obligated to do it. ... I'm happy to preserve everything. I don't want to destroy things."
He added, "We're very close to having it designated as a landmark. ... We're just waiting for the vote. Generally if (a project) gets calendared it gets approved. I'm sure they're going to approve this."
The preservation of 35-34 Bell Blvd. was first brought to Avella's attention in a comprehensive report on his district, released earlier this year by Paul Graziano, an urban planning and historic preservation consultant.
"I did a study for Councilman Avella on his entire council district last year," Graziano said. "This is one of the buildings I called out. It's been on a lot of lists for a long time."
The house was previously owned by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Berardi, who moved to Pennsylvania after selling it to Bram, said Frank Skala, president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association.
"There were a whole series of homes here in the mid-1800s when it was Bell Avenue, and that was one of them. It's the only one left," Skala said.
Prior to the Berardis, the house was rumored to have once belonged to actress Elizabeth Adams and to have served as a speakeasy during the Great Depression.
Avella's efforts to landmark the site combined with the eight years Bram has spent restoring his house have drawn praise among those community members working to preserve the history of Queens.
Borough Historian Stanley Cogan lives just two blocks away from the cobblestone house and said he appreciates its beauty.
"It just stands out and it hits you. I pass it obviously very, very frequently. Each time I give a little sigh," he said. "In the early 1900s Bayside, I would say, was much more beautiful."
Cogan said the area was filled with farms and Victorian-style houses at that time.
He said there are slightly more than 50 spots in Queens with landmark status without a concentration in any community.
Avella also said not enough attention is focused on the history of Queens.
"These buildings represent a quality of life and the history of the borough of Queens that need to be preserved. We have a tremendous problem saving historic buildings in Queens. Manhattan gets all the attention. If someone sneezes, that becomes a landmark in Manhattan."
Since moving his practice from Francis Lewis Boulevard and 34th Avenue to Bell Boulevard, Bram said he's been much more successful.
"This house was good luck for me. We're running a very successful practice. I'm really lucky here."
Reach intern Jennifer Misthal by e-mail at news@times
©2004 Community News Group
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