Known locally as “the Gables,” Merrick Gables is an architecturally and historically significant 1920s planned community in Nassau County located just thirty miles east of Manhattan. Merrick Gables is threatened by an ongoing loss of community character due to the demolition of historic structures and insensitive redevelopment throughout the neighborhood.
ACTION ALERT! If you live or work in the Town of Hempstead, please contact your Town Supervisor and Town Councilmember to ask for their support in enhancing the town’s landmarks preservation ordinance with new provisions for designating local historic districts like Merrick Gables.
Established in the 1920s by developers Joseph Frankel, a New York City-based promoter, and William Fox, a Hollywood mogul and founder of Fox Film Corporation, the community’s proximity to NYC continues to make it an ideal suburban neighborhood. Construction at the Gables began in 1926, centering on an eight-block area south of Sunrise Highway where as many as 400 structures were built. The US stock market crash of 1929 halted construction, leaving over 400 vacant lots to be auctioned off in 1931 due to bankruptcy.
About 260 original Merrick Gables houses exist today. These surviving historic properties represent excellent examples of Mission Revival- and Spanish Colonial Revival-style, including one- and two-story houses with character-defining elements like towers, parapets, stucco finishes, terracotta-tiled roofs, and stained glass accent windows. Original interior elements include cathedral ceilings, exposed timber details, Spanish-style fireplaces, arched doorways, and parquet floors.
The Gables also represents a unique era of Long Island’s past, when bicoastal stars like Errol Flynn and Ed Begley lived in Merrick’s “mini Hollywood” during their performances on Broadway and NYC’s many theaters. The neighborhood continues to attract Hollywood stars as a popular location for film and television productions. Among others, Merrick Gables provided the backdrop for the 2011 HBO mini-series “Mildred Pierce,” starring Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce, as well as the forthcoming 2019 FX series “Fosse/Verdon,” starring Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams as Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon.
As one of Preservation Long Island’s 2019 Endangered Historic Places, we support the efforts of historic property owners and the Merrick Gables Association, Inc. (a not-for-profit local civic organization) to preserve the neighborhood’s distinctive character and sense of place. Local advocates are leading the way to protect Merrick Gables and other historic neighborhoods in the Town of Hempstead. Their efforts include asking Hempstead’s Town Supervisor and Town Council to consider enhancing the town’s landmarks preservation ordinance with a new provision for designating local historic districts.
- Threatened by the demolition of historic houses and inappropriate redevelopment throughout the neighborhood.
- Enhance the Town of Hempstead’s current landmarks preservation ordinance with new provisions for designating local historic districts like Merrick Gables. In the meantime, individual properties must be nominated and designated separately as town landmarks.
- Nominate the Merrick Gables Historic District for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
If you’re interested in purchasing a historic property in Merrick Gables, please consider contacting Joanna Tsue. Joanna is a real estate professional who owns a 1928 Gables home and specializes in historic or older homes in need of repair. She also serves as co-president of the Merrick Gables Association, Inc.
Preservation Long Island’s 2019 Endangered Historic Places Program is made possible in part by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.