From the Queens Chronicle:
At the intersection of 40th Avenue and 216th Street in Bayside, what was once an urban tragedy has become urban legend: a bereaved widow, whose firefighter husband died in the line of duty, secluded herself in her home, leaving its exterior vulnerable to four decades of decay and only a specter of herself in her neighbors’ imaginations.
According to East Bayside Homeowners Association President Frank Skala, Louise Miller moved into a nursing facility just last year, at which time some neighbors assumed the octogenarian had died. Prior to that, Miller’s son Eric, who lived only a few blocks away, had attended her lawn in haphazard fashion; somehow, he overlooked the blue Buick Skylark parked there for 15 years and the overgrown trees growing on the building’s southwestern wall.
Today, the ramshackle, brick, one-family house is an eyesore, albeit a mysterious one, to the otherwise manicured residential community. The doors and windows on the ground floor have been cemented over because the Department of Buildings found the structure open, vacant and unguarded. The second-floor windows are shattered, and the building, abandoned by its one human resident, is now inhabited by raccoons and squirrels.
Skala described the structure: “It looks like one of those apocalyptic movies, like a hydrogen bomb went off.” If the house had been maintained, it would in this real estate market be worth about $800,000. “Now, it’s not worth 70 cents,” Skala added. The property’s current condition and assessed value of $21,713 lowers its neighbors’ market values.