SENDEK HOUSE, Queens Boulevard

During the ForgottenTour on September 21, 2013, I discussed the Mary Sendek House at Queens Boulevard, which forced Macy’s to build a “notch” in their Moderne circular building. I was sent a photo of the house at it was in the 1930s and the 1960s before its demolition.

The circular R.H. Macy branch on the Boulevard was the site of an epic struggle between The World’s Biggest Store and a local homeowner, Mary Sendek (some accounts spell it Sondek). Mary and husband Joseph had purchased property at Queens Blvd.  in 1922 and built a modest home there, raising a family; when Macy’s arrived after Joseph Sendek’s death and offered to buy the property, Mary refused to budge, even after Macy’s offered her five times what the Sendeks spent when they purchased the property. Macy’s eventually cut a notch in the circular structure to evade the property line.

In 1935, 55th Avenue was yet to be built and the Sendek house, second from right, was midblock. It was under assault from both traffic engineers, who just missed it when building 55th Avenue, and the burghers of Macy’s who could have made Mary a wealthy woman…if she would have moved.


Photos courtesy Todd Berkun


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13 Responses to SENDEK HOUSE, Queens Boulevard

  1. Dan Bostaph says:

    What was the address, so we can check Google Street View, today?

  2. John Sterbenz says:

    My Forest Hills-raised parents would always talk about this notch as we’d drive down Queens Boulevard towards FH at the very, very end of our annual summer pilgrimage from Michigan. It’s nice to have this extra piece of knowledge about it. shows both the house and the outstructure (I can’t imagine it being anything other than a garage) still standing in 1966. Very similar-shaped buildings to the original house can be seen in the 1980 shot, too–the size and roofline of the main structure being so similar to what the photo above and the previous aerials show that it appears as though the house was still standing in that, too–though this contradicts our Webmaster’s statement of demolition in the 1960s.

  3. Greg says:

    Interesting. it doesn’t look like they cut a notch though from the photo. It looks like the house is a hundred yards away.

  4. queensbee says:

    there is a banner ad for …Macy’s… on this page with this story. irony?

  5. Edward says:

    So, instead of taking the money and buying a nice home in any other quiet NYC neighborhood, she ended up living on a very busy street corner with cars and dept stores all around her.

    You go girl!

  6. candy says:

    im very glad she chose to remain. i hate the businesses and builders who think residents should move for their big production or plan.

  7. LB says:

    This is the property today:

    You can see the notch on the western side of the building. It’s also visible in the above picture. THe notch was to accommodate the property line.

  8. steve says:

    The house survived at least into the 1980s and probably the ’90s before it made room for a row of shops. The lot was well maintained, had a nice garden, and room for Sendak’s dog.

    The notch, visible in the 1964 photo above the black car, was for the property line and merely elminated a few spaces from the parking decks that encircled all sales levels of the store.

  9. Tal Barzilai says:

    I just looked at that location on Google Maps, and that house isn’t there anymore, and this is now the site where that long brick low-rise building sits, which probably took out the rest of that block as well, though HSBC is the actual location of that house.

  10. Marjorie Melikian says:

    From 1970 through 1976 I used to walk by the house on my way to church. The house probably lasted at least another couple years. Mrs. Sendek had flowers and animal figurines in her backyard; my children loved to look at the animals. My youngest had to have been 2 or 3 at least, which would be 1973-4. I saw Mrs. Sendek out there gardening a few times, and spoke to her. She was so proud of her yard, and said others had commented on the animals also. She was a pleasant lady whose home meant everything to her.
    I don’t remember the structure mentioned in the yard; it probably was either a garage (I don’t remember a car) or a storage shed for gardening supplies.

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