“When we build let us think that we build forever.”

John Ruskin, 1849

2013   Removed/Lost: The only sidewalk cast iron and cast glass illuminated  “vault light” in Sea Cliff located in front of Sherlock Homes at 305 Sea Cliff Avenue. The vault light was made by a well-known company, Jacob Mark. Mark is known for beautiful manhole covers and vault light installations for subways and major buildings in NYC.

Historically, light was provided to vaults and basements by open grates, which were difficult to walk on (especially with women’s shoes) and obviously let in water. By placing glass lenses in an iron (or later concrete) frame, daylight could be introduced below while excluding the weather. Iron nubs protruding above the glass surface protected the glass and aided traction. 

 By the late 19th century vault lights were common in the larger downtowns, especially New York. Their use declined as electric light became cheaper and better, and by the 1930’s were on their way out. Now, they are endangered relics. After 100 years of sidewalk traffic, they usually look ours, with much of the glass broken out and then filled, in some of the rest smashed but still in place, and a few remaining pieces of glass in good condition. 

 This grate in front of Sherlock Homes, the only one that I am aware of in Sea Cliff, was made by a well-known company, Jacob Mark, which made beautiful manhole covers, and did installations for subways and major buildings in NYC.  

1987 Demolished –  The Pinnacle Hotel

Built as a hotel in 1890 at 209 Maple Avenue, west of Prospect Avenue, from Maple Avenue to Tilley Place.  It had both a first and second story porch, which was the summer dining room.  French doors led to and from a huge reception/dining room.  As the automobile  opened up more distant locales for vacations, the hotels of Sea Cliff were threatened and few survived, some converting to boarding houses.

The Pinnacle survived under the ownership of Mrs. Irmis Barret Popoff, a Venezuelan (who was briefly married to a Cossack colonel), who lived there for fifty years.  She took in many refugees of the White Russian community until they fo und homes or lodging elsewhere.

Madame Popoff, a disciple of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, a White Russian mystic, housed a commune of Gurdjieff’s disciples at the Pinnacle who practiced the mystic’s philosophy of self-awareness and performed dance-like exercises called “Gurdjieff’s Movements.”

Madame Popoff died at 83 in 1985 and the building was sold to a developer, Richard Mohring, Jr., of Mohring and Sons Enterprises at 347  Glen Cove Avenue, Sea Cliff, who planned to demolish the Pinnacle and erect two neo-colonial structures on the property.

Preservation-minded residents led by George Santos rallied to try to save the Pinnacle but ultimately failed and the old hotel was demolished.

Early 1940’s – The Battershall Inn

??? The Chinese House

Tilley Boathouse