BY LUIS GRONDA
A newly formed group is looking to save an Astoria relic that has been vacated for a few years.
The Friends of Steinway Mansion, a coalition created by the Greater Astoria Historical Society, aims to buy the building and turn it into a museum that would be open to the public.
Headed by the historical society, the group also includes Assemblywomen Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) and Marge Markey (D-Maspeth), the Artisans Guild of America and the Steinway and Sons Company.
Bob Singleton, who is a member of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, said that this is the first coalition of its kind that wants to buy the house and they are hoping to add more community leaders and organizations to the group.
He said that the reason they want to buy the house is to turn it into a place that will benefit both Astoria and the Borough as a whole and possibly boosts revenue to the block surrounding the building, which is located at 18-33 41 Street.
“This is exactly the type of place that should be preserved for future generations,” Singleton said.
The house was originally built in the 1850s and bought by William Steinway, the first president of Steinway and Sons.
Michael Halberian and the Halberian family then owned the house. Halberian lived in the house until he passed away in 2010 and it has been for sale since then.
Since it was first put on the market, the asking price has steadily decreased in an attempt to woo interest from potential buyers. The latest price for the property has dipped to a little under $3 million according to an article in the Daily News last year.
Singleton said that, with additional members in the group, they can combine to buy the house, adding that not a lot of renovation would be required to the property, other than making it ADA compliant and doing some gardening in front of the house, because it is mostly in good shape.
Both Simotas and Markey threw their support behind buying the mansion and the group’s initiative.
“I am wholly supportive of the efforts of the Friends of Steinway Mansion (FSM) to honor the property’s important past by opening the Mansion to the public for use as a historical center, which will greatly benefit neighborhood residents and visitors,” Simotas said in a statement.
Michael Armstrong, a spokesman for Markey, said that the Assemblywoman brought state officials to inspect the house as part of their push to preserve the mansion.
“We are all be grateful for the work of Bob Singleton and the leadership of the Greater Astoria Historical Society in launching this Friends organization to order make the civic and business leadership of the borough aware of the potential for this magnificent piece of our history,” Markey said in a statement.
Reach Reporter Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.