Much Of Lakewood’s History Is Already Gone

To the Readers’ Forum:

I hope everyone caught the column by Margot Russell in the ”Lakewood Lens” in the Saturday, April 12 edition of The Post-Journal. It certainly caught my eye by the title ”Saving the Past” because it brought back memories that fell into that category in my 80 years in this village. I first remember the Lakewood Train Station, which I lived two blocks from. During the late 1880-90s it brought hundreds of people from all part of this great country. There were direct routes from all the large cities. The station was elegant, landscaped with flowers saying ”Welcome to Lakewood.” The interior was all handcrafted in natural oak, ticket booths, benches and baggage room. This structure would have been a beautiful museum of the village’s history. Unfortunately, it was chosen by the village to be torn down.

On old Route 17J (at the top of Chautauqua Avenue) sat the stock farm. This enormous building held over 100 thoroughbred horses for racing. Among those horses were Justice Jackson’s thoroughbreds. The facility held indoor and outdoor racetracks. Again, it was torn down. We Chautauqua Avenue merchants had a beautiful master plan developed by architect Julian Naetzker which we presented to the village board in the 1960s. It would have developed a modern shopping area, but unfortunately, it was torn down.

The Lakewood Jaycees, for five years in the ’60s, brought thousands of people to our little village with three days of the Chautauqua Lake Summer Festival, ushering in the summer season. After the fifth season, the Jaycees had met in New York City with the officials of ABC’s Wide World of Sports, who agreed to televise the tri-county boat races at the beach. Unfortunately, three people complained to the village board because of the crowds and the program was terminated.

Tearing down the Lakewood High School on Summit and Lakeview was a great mistake. It would have been great senior living which the village has got to address. It was justified by the board that it was unsafe and contained asbestos. Kingsview, who tore it down, said they had a tough time tearing it down with the wrecking ball and the asbestos was removed in days with high vacuums. In summary, sometimes we do not think what of is good for our village ”down the road.” We must judge for the majority and not the minority.

Anthony G. Barone

Former Lakewood Historian