WWW.QNS.COM RIDGEWOOD TIMES JULY 15, 2021 15
OUR NEIGHBORHOOD: THE WAY IT WAS
Louis Berger, helped create Bauer and
Stier Inc. to build residential housing
in the area. August Bauer served as
president; Stier was vice president;
and Berger served as secretary and
Bauer and Stier purchased part of
the Wyckoff Farm and held the land
for several years, while Stier continued
his own business in the interim.
By 1910, Stier acquired a large part
of the 14.8-acre Frederick Ring Farm
on the west side of Fresh Pond Road
from Elm Avenue (now Catalpa Avenue)
north to 68th Avenue and west
to Buchman Avenue. He laid out two
east-west streets through the farm:
Silver Street, on which he built 38
homes, and Hughes Street, where he
built 48 houses.
Selling for $5,600, the two-family
brick homes were constructed by a
team of carpenters who worked six
days a week, 10 hours a day, for $18
Next, Stier built 54 three-family
brick homes on Van Cortlandt Avenue
(now 71st Avenue), which sold for
Two years later, Stier built another
48 two-family brick homes on Jefferson
Avenue (now 68th Avenue),
followed by 38 brick houses on Elm
Stier then purchased what was left
of the John C. Debevoise Farm off the
corner of Catalpa Avenue and Fresh
Pond Road and built a number of brick
homes on Foxall Street between Buchman
Avenue and Fresh Pond Road,
and along Edsall Avenue between Buchman
A`venue and Fresh Pond Road.
Additional homes were constructed
on Van Cortlandt Avenue.
THE FIRST APARTMENTS
In 1914, Bauer and Stier commenced
work on developing the Wyckoff
Farm, constructing 80 six-family brick
houses on Gates Avenue, Palmetto
Street, Woodbine Street, Madison
Street, Putnam Avenue and Cornelia
Street, all adjacent to Cypress Avenue.
Much like the Mathews Flats, these
structures were built on 27.6-foot
frontages three stories high, with two
fl ats on each fl oor. Each fl at had fi ve
rooms and a bathroom.
Initially, these apartments were offered
to renters at $15 per month.
That same year, Bauer and Stier
erected the two fi rst full-fl edged apartment
houses in Queens at the corner of
Cypress Avenue and Woodbine Street.
Each brick structure was four stories
high and had four apartments on each
fl oor. Renters paid $24 per month for
a four-room, steam-heated apartment.
As Stier constructed homes all over
Ridgewood, he also became politically
active; a Democrat, he founded the
Jeff erson Democratic Club and was
elected in November 1915 as Queens
County sheriff .
A LIFE AND LEGACY CUT
Having helped to build an entire
neighborhood and now assuming
law enforcement responsibilities for
an entire county, it appeared Sheriff
Stier was on his way toward making
history on an even grander scale. But
the duties of his job would come with
On Oct. 21, 1916, two of Stier’s deputies
went to Whitestone Landing to
serve an arrest warrant to Frank
Taff . The Whitestone native lived in a
house leased by the Bradley and Currier
Company and had fallen behind
on his rent. The company took Taff
to court to compel him to pay his bill,
but Taff — upon being summonsed by
a judge — refused to appear.
Subsequently, the judge ordered
Taff in contempt of court and issued
the arrest warrant.
When Stier’s offi cers arrived that
day at Whitestone Landing, Taff —
upon learning of the reasons for
their visit — ordered them to leave,
and threatened to shoot them if they
did not comply with his demand. The
deputies returned to Stier’s Long
Island City offi ce and reported the
Two days later, Monday, Oct. 23,
Stier personally traveled to Whitestone
Landing with Assistant Sheriff
Samuel Mitchell and Patrolman John
Durkin of the Flushing precinct. They
arrived at Taff ’s residence at 1 p.m.
Taff was at the top of the stairwell to
the home’s second-fl oor when he saw
Stier, who announced the purpose of
his visit. Looking down at the sheriff ,
Taff momentarily ducked into a bedroom,
then reappeared with a shotgun
and opened fi re.
Stier, then 42, sustained gunshot
wounds to the chest. Mitchell fl ed the
location seeking assistance.
Meanwhile, Durkin — grazed on
the cheek by one of the shots — attempted
to drag Stier’s body out of the
home, but Taff kept fi ring through the
fl oor. The offi cer returned fi re with
his revolver, then fl ed out of the home.
Fifteen minutes after the shooting,
30 officers from the Flushing
precinct arrived at the home. Taff
stood on the roof when the officers
arrived, smoking a cigar and armed
with the shotgun, two .22-caliber
rifles and hundreds of rounds of
A tense standoff ensued, during
which three additional offi cers sustained
injuries aft er exchanging fi re
with Taff . Eventually, Sergeant James
Fitzgerald negotiated with Taff to allow
him into the home unarmed to
tend to the injured Stier.
Taff agreed, but upon entering the
home, Fitzgerald and an accompanying
physician determined Stier had
died. They quickly left the residence.
The standoff came to an end soon
thereaft er when Fitzgerald — who
borrowed a rifle from the nearby
naval destroyer USS Hendley, which
laid at anchor on the nearby bay —
shot Taff in the head aft er the suspect
again failed to surrender.
Meanwhile, Stier’s murder brought
an outpouring of emotion from across
Queens. On Wednesday, Oct. 25, the
200 employees of Bauer and Stier
appeared en masse at Stier’s home on
6 Islington Pl. (now 69th Avenue) in
Jamaica, where he was waked, to off er
The following day, Oct. 26, Stier
was laid to rest at Lutheran (later All
Faiths) Cemetery in Middle Village,
where 50 carriages participated in
the procession. Stier was survived by
his second wife, Bertha; his fi rst wife,
Anna (Bertha’s sister); his daughter,
Elsie; and his son, George.
Despite his tragic death, Stier left
an indelible legacy in Ridgewood and
surrounding communities, as Bauer
and Stier constructed more than 2,000
homes. He would be remembered as
the area’s most prolifi c builder of his
Reprinted from the Dec. 18, 2014, issue
of the Ridgewood Times.
* * *
If you have any remembrances or old
photographs of “Our Neighborhood: The
Way It Was” that you would like to share
with our readers, please write to the Old
Timer, c/o Ridgewood Times, 38-15 Bell
Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361, or send an
email to editorial@ridgewoodtimes.
com. Any print photographs mailed to
us will be carefully returned to you upon