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History Mystery Homes #14

Fourteenth in a series of unidentified home photos found in the Garden City Archives that date from 1913 to 1928.

Number "23" needs to be identified. Note the unusual sloping roof. Perhaps the house on the right can help place this home. (GC Archives)
Number "23" needs to be identified. Note the unusual sloping roof. Perhaps the house on the right can help place this home. (GC Archives)
The mystery home this week is number "23." It can be located anywhere in Garden City. The key is finding the roof with its slight curve at the end. There is a column at the front door area too. Do you know where this house is?

"History Mystery Home" number "20" has been identified by the author as 18 Cathedral Avenue, on the northwest corner of Second Street. The photo might date from 1920 when the house was for sale. The stucco colonial with the green tile roof is approximately 7,000 square feet and has 15 rooms situated on almost one-and-a-half acres with old copper beech trees shading the property. The triple flue chimneys, each with a different design, add character.

According Daniel Gale Real Estate agent Al Kohart, the property might have filled the entire area of Cathedral from Second Street to Third Street, due to the fact that the home's backyard faces Second Street and the construction of the separate garage looks like the door might have originally been on the north side. Certainly, most homes have their backyard in the interior of the block, not backing onto a street.

The current owners are Holly Falk Lane and Nick Lane, who just moved in this past September. They are renovating and are in the process of completing the kitchen. Holly graciously took the author through her lovely home, which has many interior architectural features such as coved and coffered ceilings, crown moldings and built-in bookcases in several large first floor rooms that would be hard to replicate today.

A sunroom is located on the east side of the house with a bank of windows on three sides. The master bedroom has a separate sitting room with a door that opens up onto the sunroom roof that serves as a very large deck. There are several charming bathrooms with 1920s-era sculpted porcelain fixtures and tiles. One bathroom has a "Jack and Jill" arrangement, which seems to be way ahead of its time.

Seven fireplaces grace the house (four on the first floor, two on the second and one on the third). The most elaborate one is the sunroom fireplace. The large fireplace has a painted plaster detail panel of elaborate iconography reminiscent of a cathedral, which is very appropriate for a Cathedral Avenue address. The arches in the fireplace compliment the arched door frames in the house.

The large foyer is perfect for a grand entrance with a beautiful staircase that has three different types of turnings on the balusters. Holly pointed out that this might be copied from the chimneys that have three flue designs next to each other. (Chimneys can hold multiple flues for fireplaces on different floors.) There is a separate smaller maid's staircase.

Men will drool over the original "man cave" pool room found on the third floor with its original fireplace, old-style wood paneling, built-in seating by the small roof gable, antique pool table and the built-in holders for cue sticks and balls. The room comes complete with abacus-like wooden counters wired in the ceiling beams to keep track of scores.

The grand mansion was built between 1905-1908 and was owned by at least six families in its 106-year-old history.

The Tompers family was the first set of owners the author was able to find. They were the second family to live there, most likely. Successful businessman George Urban Tompers (b. 1876) married mezzo- soprano Lucie Margaret Hartt Tompers (b. 1874, approximately). The Tompers moved to Cathedral Avenue in 1920, after living in several architecturally significant mansions they built on Ditmas Avenue and Buckingham Road in Brooklyn.

The family employed four servants from the British Isles: a waitress, cook, maid and chauffer. The chauffer probably lived in the apartment over the garage.  The couple, with their daughter, Jacqueline (b. 1911), probably enjoyed meeting their illustrious neighbors like Glen Curtis of aviation fame, who was renting George L. Hubbell's house at 6 Cathedral Avenue.

George Tompers was fairly illustrious himself, or perhaps notorious, in the business world. He bought and sold properties and companies in a real-life "Monopoly" game. He bought "struggling" companies, re-organized and then sold them. He was bold, sometimes buying companies in fields he must have learned about on the fly. For example, in 1919 Tompers bought the Huntington Piano Company and two other companies in stock for almost $450,000. The Music Trade Review said he "has not previously been identified with the piano industry in any way."

Financially, Tomper was in the right place at the right time. His source of supposedly failing companies was the Alien Custodian Report that contained United States-seized enemy property in our country. The report was formed under President Woodrow Wilson during WWI. This was to prevent Germany from expanding its industries throughout America and then conquering the world.

At his death, Tompers was president of more than six companies, including the drug industry firms Riedel and Company and F. A. Richter and Company. George died in 1936. The following year Jacqueline married a Garden City man. Lucie lived in the house a total of 18 years before she passed away in 1938.

The Cathedral Avenue home was vacant for a while until the third family, Warren P. (b. 1890) and Olive Doing (b. approximately 1894) moved in around 1943. Their previous residences were probably all rentals at 99 Stratford Avenue (1932-1936 or more), 75 South Brixton Road (1938), Emily Sherer's home at 144 Brixton Road (1940) and 113 Ninth Street (between 1940-1942 or 1943).

Warren was an executive in the sheet metal business and had started out teaching sheet metal work in a vocational school New York City. He wrote several technical books on the subject and had applied for a patent in 1939 for improvements in flashing with building construction.

Warren and Olive Doing had at least three sons, Bruce F., Park A. and Warren P. Doing, Jr. As they married, the Doing boys stayed local. By 1950 Park, an attorney and his wife, Mary, lived at 41 Cambridge Avenue. But the house was so large that Bruce (also in ornamental sheet metal) and his wife, Joyce, as well as Warren, Jr. and his wife, Lee, shared the large home.

By 1953, Bruce and Joyce moved and were living at 161 Brompton Road. Warren Jr. and Lee were on their own by 1955. In 1958 Park also had his own law office close to the current Public House 55 on New Hyde Park Road. After 19 years, Warren P. & Olive Doing moved to 7 Wyatt Road, downsizing after the children left. Warren, Sr. passed away in 1963.

Albert J. Zaloom and his wife, Virginia, bought the house in 1962. Zaloom was born in the United States but his parents were from Syria. As a child, Albert lived with his four siblings and parents in Brooklyn on Prospect Park West. Like his dad, he was in the nut import business as an adult. Not much else is known about him or Virginia. However, the second of the Zaloom's six children, Paul Zaloom (b. 1952), is an actor and puppeteer most well-known in "Beakman's World," the television science program for children and for his performances entitled, "Fruit of Zaloom" and "Theater of Trash," among other zany puppet shows.

The Zalooms sold the home in 1975 to the fifth family to live at 18 Cathedral, who were Dr. Philip A. Lopresti (1926- 2010), a gastroenterologist and his wife, Rosemarie. Two of the children were Philip A. and Andrew N. Lopresti.

Holly Lane said, "The Loprestis had six children. Mrs. Lopresti worked at Graffiti downtown Garden City."

The sixth and current family are the Lanes with their two children.

Please contact Suzie Alvey at 326-1720 or suziealvey@gmail.com if you recognize any of the unidentified homes that have been featured. Also, if anyone has any old books, photos or papers relating to anything in Garden City, please call Alvey. She can scan or photograph the items, while you keep the original, or you can donate it. This will be extremely helpful to the archives at the Garden City Public Library and the Garden City Historical Society.

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