Most of the communities in our neighborhood have smaller subdivisions within them such as Liberty Park in Glendale and Winfield in Woodside — and Ridgewood is no exception.
For years, people referred to the northern area of the community near the Brooklyn/Queens border as “Upper Ridgewood.” Howard Beach has a couple of subdivisions — including Hamilton Beach and Ramblersville — and Bayside has the communities of Oakland Gardens, Windsor Park and Bay Terrace.
Few people, however, know about the “Stierville” section of Ridgewood. This actually is an antiquated name for the area of Ridgewood northwest of Myrtle Avenue and Fresh Pond Road where Paul Stier built hundreds of one- and two-family brick rowhouses in the early part of the 20th century that have withstood the test of time.
The story of Stierville and the man behind it is quite fascinating, yet comes to a tragic and sudden conclusion.
Stier, who constructed more than 750 homes in Ridgewood and Glendale, was born in Germany in 1874 and emigrated the United States at the age of 17. He first settled in upstate Buffalo, where he worked as a mason. He traveled around the state for a while, working at various construction sites, until finally settling in our neighborhood.
In 1898, he married Anna Muller, and four years later constructed his first home. By 1905, he built a row of two-family brick houses on the east side of what was then called Yale Avenue (currently 64th Place). Three years later, he purchased land on Foxall Street (now 69th Avenue) between Forest Avenue and Buchman Avenue (now 60th Lane). He purchased additional land on Edsall Avenue (now 70th Avenue) between Anthon Avenue (now 60th Street) and Buchman Avenue.
On this land, Stier constructed two-family brick homes sold for $5,600 each (less than one percent of the market value of a similar home in Ridgewood today); buyers had to offer a $500 down payment, then paid the remaining balance over time.
Each home had 11 rooms on two floors, plus two tiled bathrooms, separate furnaces in the basement and hardwood trim throughout the structure. But this was only the beginning for Stier, who built 200 homes the previous two years and had plans to build another 144 in the immediate years ahead.