By Paula Katinas
Bay Ridge — Victoria Hofmo has been leading the charge for the case for historic preservation in this community for more than 10 years as founder and president of Bay Ridge Conservancy. She led the effort to save the Farrell House, a 95th Street house built in 1849 in the Greek Revival style, from demolition by pushing the Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate it as a city landmark. Landmark status rendered the Farrell House untouchable to property developers.
Hofmo will lead the charge, but in a different way, on June 2. She is leading a bicycle tour of Bay Ridge to show off the community's beauty and charm.
"I'm really looking forward to it. I hope a lot of people come. Our community has so many interesting things to see. There are a lot of public and private open spaces," Hofmo said.
The tour, which begins at 10 a.m. on the Shore Road Bike Path, with stops at several points of historic interest, including Owl's Head Park. Hofmo notes that Owl's Head, a public park, was actually part of a sprawling estate belonging to the wealthy Bliss Family, whose patriarch bequeath the land to the city for use as a public park. Some old time Bay Ridge residents still refer to it as "Bliss Park."
Hofmo and her guests will stop at Barkaloo Cemetery, a small private cemetery on MacKay Place, where they will be met by Susan Pulaski, a member of the Bay Ridge Historical Society. "Susan will tell us about the history of Barkaloo. It's one of the oldest private cemeteries in New York City," Hofmo said.
"I'm organizing the tour so that at each stop, I'll have someone there to talk about the history of that spot," Hofmo said.
The group will stop outside the Gingerbread House, the private home on Narrows Avenue resembling a storybook dwelling straight out of Hansel and Gretel. "It's a landmark. It's a beautiful house built in the arts and crafts style," Hofmo said. "What's so unusual about the Gingerbread House is that the interior is also landmarked. It's rare to have both the exterior and the interior landmarked by the city," she said.
The Gingerbread House is on the market. The asking price is $12 million.
Colonial Gardens, a charming cul-de-sac located on Shore Road near 90th Street, is also a tour stop. "It's an example of many of the lovely hidden blocks we have in our community. If you didn't know it was there, you would pass right by it without seeing it," Hofmo said.
The tour will end at the Fort Hamilton Army Base, a military installation built in 1825. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are among the historic figures that passed through its gates.
Hofmo said she's looking forward to taking people inside the fort. "Some people have never been to the fort," she said.
Hofmo is organizing the tour in cooperation with the Historic Districts Council, a non-profit organization that works to preserve city neighborhoods. Earlier this year, the council named Bay Ridge of New York "Six To Celebrate," an honor it bestows on six New York City neighborhoods each year.
Hofmo's bike tour is part of the "Six To Celebrate" festivities.
If you plan to take part in the tour, be sure to bring your own bike. Bikes will not be provided. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
May 11, 2012 - 3:36pm