Thursday, October 29, 2009

Onderdonk House Event ‘Raises the Roof’ in Ridgewood

Funds Will Pay for Emergency Roof Repairs at Historic House

By Conor Greene

The historic Vander Ende-Onderdonk House in Ridgewood has received a new lease on life thanks to a fundraiser that will fund emergency roof repairs at the 1709 Dutch Colonial stone house, which is hidden amid a row of factories along Flushing Avenue.

The house, located at 18-20 Flushing Avenue, was one of a row of similar homes until the 1920s, when “one by one they succumbed to demolition for new factories,” according to Steve Monti of the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society. By the 1950s, the Onderdonk House was the only one left standing, and the society was formed in 1975 to save it after it was slated for demolition.

The building opened to the public in 1981 and has been placed on the national and state registers of historic properties and the city landmarks register. While it has served the community ever since, including through open hours for the public on Saturdays and events with local schools, the building is badly in need of a new roof, said Monte. It was rebuilt back in the late 1970s out of cedar shingles after a fire damaged the house, but has since developed a number of leaks that has left the attic space unusable for events.

In response, local companies including Waste Management stepped up and organized a “Raise the Roof” fundraiser held last Friday on the two-acre property. Attended by a host of officials including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Hugo Gajus Scheltema, the Netherlands Consulate General for New York, the event exceeded the goal of $200,000 needed to move ahead with the emergency repairs.

“We just had a good time, with a jazz band under the tent and the house lit in candlelight,” said Monte. “I think it was a very successful event and raised enough money to at least, from what I understand, do major emergency repairs that will get us through a few years. Then, over the next couple of years we will raise money to pay for a new roof.”

Honored at the event were Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan and Ridgewood civic leader Paul Kerzner for their efforts to support the preservation of the Onderdonk House. “We’re delighted that Mayor Bloomberg and many distinguished guests attended this special event to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House,” said Linda Monte, president of the historical society.

The event was hosted by Waste Management, which has a facility near the Queens-Brooklyn border and is currently seeking permission to construct a waste transfer station in Maspeth, despite community opposition. “Waste Management is committed to sustainability and to preserving the environment,” said company community relations specialist and event co-chair Rachel Amar. “That commitment extends to maintaining New York’s cultural landmarks such as the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House.”

For the Montes and other historical society members, the event also provided yet another chance to show the hidden property off to the public. “People come by and say they didn’t know this was here,” said Steve Monte. “Just like the Waste Management people, who are interested in history and had no idea that less than a mile from their office we have this place in an area surrounded by warehouses.”

For more information on the Onderdonk House, contact the historical society at (718) 456-1776 or visit

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