Prospect Cemetery (Queens)

Prospect Cemetery is a historic cemetery located in the Jamaica section of the New York Cityborough of Queens. It was established in 1668 and known as the “burring plas.” The cemetery’s original main gate was on Beaver Road which led from Sutphin Boulevard to Jamaica Avenue.[2] The cemetery was generally known as the Presbyterian burial ground and is one of the few remaining Colonial cemeteries in Queens.

United States historic place
Prospect Cemetery
NYC Landmark No. 0945

Chapel of the Sisters within the cemetery
Location 159th St. and Beaver Rd., Jamaica, New York
Coordinates

40°42′04″N73°48′01″W

Area 4 acres (1.6 ha)
Built 1668
NRHP reference No. 01001438[1]
NYCL No. 0945
Significant dates
Added to NRHP January 11, 2002
Designated NYCL January 11, 1977

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission has designated the cemetery as an official city landmark, stating that Prospect Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in New York and that it is regarded as a place of great historical and aesthetic interest, as well as one of the city’s important cultural locations.[3] It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.[1]

. . . Prospect Cemetery (Queens) . . .

The First Presbyterian Church (founded in 1662) was given control of the care and maintenance of the cemetery after it was taken from the care of the town.[4] There was a dispute between this Church and the Grace Episcopal Church (founded in 1701) in regard to which church would maintain the cemetery.[2] The dispute went back to 1704, When Lord Cornbury became governor, he confiscated the church and the parsonage in Jamaica village and placed them at the disposal of the congregation of the Anglican Church on the grounds that the building had been paid for by public taxation. The Episcopalians then refused the other congregations the use of it. Whereupon, the Presbyterians brought suit and recovered both the parsonage and the church, which they continued to use until the present edifice was built in 1813 on 164th street at 90th ave. Cornbury’s fortunes and that of the Whigs had turned by 1709 when he was accused of persecution of the Presbyterians by confiscating church property and imprisoning their ministers, there was much violence during that period relating to land grabs in New York and elsewhere.

The cemetery includes approximately 240 family plots containing 2,100 burials and date from the founding of the cemetery to the late 20th century. One such family is the Brinckerhoffs, which carries two Dutch names: “Brenger” meaning messenger and “Hof” meaning court.[2] The first and earliest Brinckerhoff to arrive in New York City was Joris Dirckson, who arrived in North America in 1638 from the European Netherlands for a better life.[2] Furthermore, two researchers from the Rufus King Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution discovered the names of 54 individuals who served as soldiers during the Revolutionary War, who were buried in Prospect Cemetery.[5] The last burial was in 1988.

Included on the property as a contributing building is the Chapel of the Sisters, erected in 1857.[6] Nicholas Ludlum was personally responsible for the construction of the “Chapel of the Sisters,” named so to honor his three daughters who died years before.[2] In 2007, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, in collaboration with preservation and community groups, celebrated the restoration of the Chapel of the Sisters, which took almost five years of fundraising by the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation[7] and the New York Landmarks Committee.[8] The main highlight within this project was to restore two rose windows decorating the north and south facades of the chapel.[8] It was built as a Romanesque Revival building and measured approximately 40 by 40 feet and 25 feet high.[8] The chapel was restored and in 2008 was re-dedicated as the Illinois Jacquet Performance Space, for the famous jazz saxophonist who lived in Addesleigh park, a jazz enclave in Jamaica. After upgrades that included a new heating plant, new plumbing and electrical systems, replacement wood windows and entry doors, new floors, and other stonework and design improvements, the chapel re-emerged as a concert/event space, which enabled the venue to be used for meetings and presentations.

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. . . Prospect Cemetery (Queens) . . .