The Dulcken Mansion: An Astoria Survivor From 1875

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    There’s a house in Astoria where I’ve always wanted to rent a room, so I could write a gothic horror novel while living there. It’s a Second Empire home with a turret and a porch. It’s seen better days — but more about that below.

    The house is nearby one of those intersections that can only occur in Queens: 31st and 31st (street and avenue, respectively). These intersections twixt time and space are thoroughly modern, as in 20th century.

    That’s 31-70 31st Avenue in the shot above, but back in 1875 when the house was built, 31st avenue was called “Jamaica Avenue.” And in 1919, it was known as “Patterson Avenue.” It’s simple to explain the confusion: In 1875, Astoria had newly consolidated into the municipality of Long Island City, and in 1919 LIC was newly consolidated into the City of Greater New York. In both cases, the streets were renamed to conform to the new and larger street grids.

    More after the jump…

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    My colleague here at Q’stoner — Kevin Walsh — is really the authority on the “street necrology” of Astoria.  He’s also on the board of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, members of which uncovered and detailed the story of this very old house.

    A composer and music teacher named Ferdinand Quentin Dulcken lived in this building long ago. From musopen.org:

    Ferdinand Quentin Dulcken was an English musician. A son of Luise David Dulcken the singer, and nephew of Ferdinand David. He attained a considerable renown as a pianist. He was a pupil of Mendelssohn, Moscheles, Gade, Hauptmann, Richter, Plaidy and Joachim in theory, of Becker on the organ and afterwards of F. Hiller at the Leipsic Conservatory. He was professor at the Warsaw Conservatory for five years and later toured Europe in concert with Vieuxtemps and other artists.

    There’s a great piece from GAHS on the Dulckens at queenscourier.com. They’ve also got a historic shot of the place you can see here.

    Dulcken is mentioned in the 1896 “History of Long Island City” which can be accessed at archive.org.

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    The building has a few issues, as you can see from the little bit of it visible from 31st street. A number of violations have been compiled on apartable, in fact.

    The same site claims that the built area is 1,563 square feet on a 2,516 square foot lot. This was one of several mansions which once stood on Jamaica Patterson 31st Avenue here in Astoria. I would suspect that one would have heard music coming from the house back in the 1870s and 80s.

    This youtube video presents a performance of one of Dulckens compositions. Not my cup of tea, necessarily, but there you are.

    Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman lives in Astoria and blogs at Newtown Pentacle.

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