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Pomandar Walk

A Little Bit of History –  Pomander Walk of Forest Hills

For years a group of homes within the Forest Hills area have sometimes been referred to as “Pomander Walk”.  Since I had no idea what this alluded to, the inner historian detective in me did a little digging.

Back in the day when Forest Hills Gardens was a new community, a local theater group evolved in 1916 calling themselves The Gardens Players.  They were not affiliated with any organization.  They gave performances during the warmer seasons in what was then known as the Tea Garden, the neglected plot of land behind the Forest Hills Inn Apartments.  During cooler seasons performances were held at The West Side Tennis Club.

But one of the plays performed by the Garden Players took place in the cul-de-sac group of attached homes on Burns Street, an area just off of Station Sq.  The story of this production is based on neighbors living in a quaint circular group of townhouses in Georgian London.  The play’s name was, you guessed it, Pomander Walk, written by Louis N. Parker.  In 1910 it premiered at Broadway’s Wallach’s Theater, a building which is long gone.

The Garden Players performed Pomander Walk in the first week of October 1920. Despite intermittent rain and the oncoming of autumn’s cold air, the show went on and was a big hit.  As one critique stated:

The natural setting of real houses and a real tree……made the Burns Street group a literal “Pomander Walk.”  It will never be called anything else.

But the plot thickens.  There’s another Pomander Walk on the upper West Side of Manhattan. In 1920 Thomas Healy, a famous nightclub operator known as “the restaurant man”, was at the height of his fame.  He acquired an irregular plot of stretching from 94th to 95th Streets between Broadway and West End Avenue.

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Inspired by “Pomander Walk,” he hired King & Campbell to design and build 20 two-story houses.  Such notables as Rosalind Russell, Lillian Gish and several Ziegfeld Folly Girls were just a few of their residents.  Overtime, despite a rough patch of neglect and a threat of being torn down in the name of progress, these buildings were land marked in 1985 as well as refurbished to their original quality in 2005.  Pomander Walk still exists today as a private community in Manhattan

So now if and when you ever care to take a stroll through Forest Hills and you hear reference to Pomander Walk, you’ll know the meaning behind its name.