Monday, June 28, 2010

Did Forest Hills Gardens have the right to do this?

From the NY Times:

Yes, someone is finally cleaning up the Sheridan house, the infamously overdecorated home in this otherwise demure neighborhood that is one of America’s oldest planned communities and one of New York’s more elegant enclaves.

Local residents have long cringed to behold 93 Puritan Avenue, with its tons of decorative debris — plastic flowers, fake Christmas trees and other ornaments — that for nearly two decades covered and obscured the outside of the house.

But Thursday morning, a huge pile of decorations had been ripped from the Sheridan’s yard and dumped by the curb. Some of it had even been put into garbage bags, which were taken away by sanitation workers by 9 a.m. A small mountain of plastic d├ęcor was scooped up in the afternoon by workers from Forest Hills Gardens’ operating agency.

Elizabeth Sheridan, who began the decorating to honor her deceased husband more than a decade ago, died recently at age 92, and her 57-year-old son, Michael Sheridan, her trusty helper, has been away for weeks, neighbors said.

For years, the two Sheridans worked daily, primping and pruning and changing the exhibits, usually before neighbors awoke.

There was mail piled on the stoop and cobwebs on the front door. No one responded to a reporter’s knock. There was gossip that Michael Sheridan had found himself a girlfriend and was on vacation.

“I think the Gardens should’ve had the Sheridan house cleaned up years ago, but I still feel bad someone came in without asking,” said Susanna Hof, a real estate broker who lives a block away on Puritan Avenue. “I don’t know who would have the nerve to do this.”


I was on the LIRR last week when this story first appeared on the NY Times website. A beer-swilling suit-wearing father and his teenaged daughter with an annoying nasally voice who apparently were neighbors of this deceased woman were cackling with glee at the fact that they got the New York Times to write this. It made me want to gag. This really isn't something to be proud of.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am a third generation resident of Forest Hills. My grandparents came here when it was just open land-think the old photos you sometimes see where you can actually see the horizon line.
I have gone to school here, seen all of my parent's oldest neighbors pass away (the most recent 2-3 weeks ago-was a Holocaust survivor and as all of his neighbors old and new filled the chapel the Rabbi (also a long time neighbor) commented about what a very good neighbor he had been.
As someone with this sort of long term perspective I think I can comment on what is going on here-on what is so very evident in this particular story. We have entirely lost what it means to be a good neighbor. (Some folks here also do not know what it means to be a good person)
My sincere condolences go out to the Sheridan family and to the people of this area-as the older inhabitants have passed away and newer ones (with too much money and not enough ethics or morals-a bad mix) have moved in -this area has very much changed, lost it's soul and become merely superficially beautiful. Scratch the surface and you will find much cackling. We NEVER had that here. It used to be an oasis.

Anonymous said...

For more information or questions regarding this story one can contact :
The Forest Hills Gardens Corporation
2 Tennis Place
Forest Hills
New York
11375
(718) 268-2420
Ask to speak to a Mr. Mitchell Cohen, President
The photo depicts one of their staff.

Anonymous said...

We live in the Gardens and loved passing this house--it was truly unique-- a unique home in a unique neighborhood. My sincere condolences to the Sheridan family for their loss and for this being done (assuming that it was not approved by the family).

With respect to the first poster, I do have to disagree-- I do still get a very neighborly feel in the Gardens (and we've lived here for less than 10 years). It is still an oasis.

Anonymous said...

A right to clean up? Is there a right to shit up a neighborhood and be a lousy neighbor? Should have been done years ago.

Anonymous said...

Failure to maintain... that's legalese for having the shi++iest home on the block, and ruining local land values.

Anonymous said...

This appears to a case of "it's better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission." Does anyone actually want the "status ante" restored?

Babs said...

What a STORY! I would love to see a pic of the house prior to the removal of the decorations.

I go along with the 1st Anonymous poster. I see this as a sad commentary on today's society.

UNLESS the new owner of the property or the administrator of the estate arranged for the clean-up - the removal of her personal items is a CRIMINAL ACT - plain and simple.

STOP worrying so much about your property values and care a tad more about your neighbors' well being! It's FOREST HILLS for Chris' sake - "location, location". . . .


In respect for the woman - in respect to her family - at least to wait until the body was cold WOULD have been the nicer thing to do IF it had to be done.

Babs said...

Also - I want to add that I am ALSO a third-generation American. I see Forest Hills the way it WAS - I haven't ventured over there in quite some time so I am not familiar with the changes. I can assume that unfortunately it has been victimized by new home buyers and contractors eager to exploit its beauty for their own self-aggrandizement like Bayside, Whitestone, Little Neck, etc.

For what it's worth - I would rather have this woman and her son with their dreadful decorations living next to me than the occupants of a new pink McMansion.

She sounds quite eccentric and BALLSY!

Peter said...

Here's a photo of the house in all its fake flower glory:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/240430265/

The people who lived there were eccentric, but really nice. And they kept up the display nicely. I really liked it, It's sad that they're gone.

Anonymous said...

The Times article mentioned a a lawyer named Mr. Vairo, who had they said had at one time sued the family. In the article Mr. Vairo was quoted as saying he was "at a bar last night." Did he mean all night, or the precise time the vandalism took place? Makes you wonder.

Babs said...

Wow!!! Thanks Peter! that's MORE than I imagined! incredible!

I wish I had known her!

Anonymous said...

It will return in almost all its glory much of the floweres remain and more are in safe keeping over the years almost all who who passed and stoped reflected on their enjoyment it was there.
Silly little people who are such dilatants will not deter its rebirth .The only thing which it will lack is the magic touch of Elizabeth Sheridan but rest assured she will be part of the rescure after all as she told all who were close to her I was born on Halloween.
A word of caution to the individual who pupotrated this wanton destruction it will not work .
Your form of intimidation is always a failur against normal people.

Babs said...

anonymous - I'm glad to hear that her "artwork" will be preserved.

I don't understand something - WHY did Mr. Vairo choose to live across the street from her. I would not buy a home near something I didn't like.

Anonymous said...

herd a rumomor there is a video but its quality is not good or maybe it one of thoes old analog repeating tapes
that was saturday on the street by the house somone said it wpould need special equiptment to make it usable some one else commented that y only need one good frame
man would that be a trip or what

Anonymous said...

A beer-swilling suit-wearing father and his teenaged daughter with an annoying nasally voice.

Seems like a fun bunch of folks live near the Sheridan house and have a relationship with the grey lady newspaper to write this.

Normally the grey lady doesn't acknowledge the Queens even exists, yet alone sell much copies of it anywhere in Queens or any Borroughs for that matter save the dwindling number of reader in Manhattan.

The point being, the Sheridan family must have given permission and few people read the story in the newspaper.

There are way worse symbols than plastic flowers - a bit eccentric i AGREE, BUT HARMLESS. I guess folks don't know their neighbors much anymore OR CARE TO.

Anonymous said...

One of the people on the street said the son was there yesterday and started to fix things a little
also heard from someone one block over that the white lincoln always parked had been taken away after the plates were removed he said the plates were stolen but thats all he knew
it seems to be somone who is very sick trying to hurt a family for doing somthing very unique and pretty.
i saw it one at christmas and it was a childs dream come true.
god bless them and the commuity should give thanks for such caring people.

Anonymous said...

I am Michael Sheridan and i will state we had nothing to do with the Times article .
Our home gave a lot of joy to many people over the years and it will again this i promise the wonderful people who are so supportive at a very trying time.
Forest Hills Gardens is a good community with High Moral fiber in most all its residents The actions of anyone who is so infantile as to have perpetuated this crime shold not reflect on the commumity as a whole.
I thank all thoes who have expressed views on the subject and look forward to the future postings

Anonymous said...

That house is not abandoned. It has an owner who still pays the property taxes. The lady was obviously still grieving the loss of her husband. Her neighbors and her family should have helped her, but it is clear that no one bothered. The people responsible for the removal of the fake flowers did so illegally. They were TRESPASSING! Personally, I would like to see the flowers and decor restored as the lady had it, just to stick it to the heartless neighbors. My sincere condolences to the Sheridan family.

Anonymous said...

Dear Michael Sherdian,

Now that your parents have both passed, you have the opportunity to show some loving respect to they and your neighbors by planting and tending to lovingly some live flowers and plantings.

mgsheridan said...

Changing what is there now whould be an insult to what my mother and father stood for and beleived in all their lives. They were old school .
They would never have changed because a sick minded individual with despotic ideas of grandure tried intimidation . It will stay and soon will be as it was.

mg sheridan

Anonymous said...

'Conform or Die' is Forest Hills Gardens' new motto. This place is a disgrace. Didn't the Nazis do the same? Anything 'different' must be eliminated.

Burn the artists, burn the books. This is a disgrace and I hope whoever trashed their flowers will have their karma catch up to them. What goes around comes around.

Larry said...

I grew up in forest hills gardens and I knew the Sheridans. They are good people and Mrs. Sheridan kept a wonderful home. I went to school with Michael Sheridan and he was a great guy.

The people who did this were asses. They should be prosecuted. My heart goes out to my old friend Michael. Sorry about the loss of your mom and dad man. Be strong!

Anonymous said...

just heard about this...it doesn't surprise. Forest Hills Gardens is becoming dominated by a bunch of elitist thugs that don't have the adequate intelligence to give meaning to the word.

Renegade said...

Dear Michael,
I will always have fond memories of your Mom. I used to take my daughter trick or treating on Halloween afternoons, and my daughter loved walking through the gate, it reminded her of OZ. And Your mom would be so sweet and stop her pruning the decorations and chat with us for a while. Instead of candy, she would give my daughter a stuffed animal. Although she is older now, she still has a couple of those stuffed animals in her bedroom! I love the neighborhood and the Hof Family who live nearby. I always dreamed of living in the Gardens and love Puritan, but maybe not so much respect for some of the newer residents. Best of luck to you!

Anonymous said...

The home in question was purchased by the Sheridans from a family named Starbuck. It is a semi-attached house with a shared front yard. I lived across the street at 74 Puritan Avenue from 1950 through 1972. A few years ago I returned to Puritan Avenue and saw what the Sheridans had done to their front yard. It was indeed grotesque. I can't imagine how distressed the neighbors were that this plastic eyesore had been erected next to them. The yard was not an "artistic excentricity", but rather the sad expression of a "Bates motel" personality disorder.

Anonymous said...

Gigi and Terrace Realty are heartless theives. Mrs. Sheridan's son was sick so they tricked him into selling his house to Gigi for $500K. Gigi and Terrace is now trying to sell the house right away for $2million.

Terrace and Gigi are heartless theives. These people have zero conscience. I pray to God people will find out how vicious these people are.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, the refurbished house has cheesie colored glass windows, and is painted dental cap white.