The battle to preserve never ends for members of the Richmond Hill Civic Association.
The group announced a Victorian-themed Strawberry Social event for Sunday afternoon at the Forest Park Carousel as a means to promote Richmond Hill’s history and push for more preservation through landmarking in southern Queens. Group president Ivan Ivan Mrakovcic said he and his group welcomed social gatherings in the community in order to keep the society relevant in Richmond Hill.
“We picked Forest Park because it a historically relevant and beautiful site,” he said. “We want people to use it.”
Mrakovcic said the group was essentially founded on the premise of appreciating and preserving the historic character of Richmond Hill, particularly different kinds of architecture from the Victorian period. One of the group’s core goals, he said, was to garner an environment in which everyday residents in Queens can understand and advocate for their community’s historic character.
“What we do is celebrate. The idea is to let the outside world know about what happened here in the past and how the area was developed,” he said. “You can’t have an understanding of the present without an understanding of the past.”
Mrakovcic helped reinvent the group in 1997 as an independent nonprofit after it went into a bit of a hiatus since its inception in the early ‘80s, he said. Since then, the group has been conducting outreach and acting as an educational resource for anyone in the community interested in learning about the preservation, restoration or rehabilitation of the area’s historic homes, religious buildings and commercial storefronts.
The group has been working nonstop on its landmarking efforts, with plans of ultimately securing Historic District status for various portions of Richmond Hill, Mrakovcic said. The group has already celebrated a number of victories, including the Richmond Hill Republican Club building, which was landmarked nearly 10 years ago and saved from demolition.
“We’re always promoting Richmond Hill as a historic district” Mrakovcic said. “It tends to be an uphill battle sometimes, but we would like to see the nucleus of this district focus on the old Victorian houses in the neighborhood. There’s always hope. We’ll keep plugging away.”
The Strawberry Social was scheduled for July 20 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Forest Park Carousel and will include strawberry desserts, unlimited carousel rides and a barbershop quartet. Members pay $8 and nonmembers pay $10, the group said.
The event was the second of its kind, Mrakovcic said. Last year, the society hosted an ice cream social in an attempt to provide more dynamic programming and keep the group relevant in the slow summer months.
“The idea is to have a social gathering to promote the society,” he said. “We are putting the word out there about us and hopefully people want to be a part of it.”
Looking ahead, Mrakovcic said the historical society was planning a restoration fair for September, which will include a historic presentation on the neighborhood and a walking tour throughout Richmond Hill to showcase the various restorations taken on over the years.
By Phil Corso