More About Mary Sendek

Back in 2012 I did my first post on Mary Sendek. Her house stood from the mid 1870’s until 1980, but it was from 1963 until 1980 that the house stood in defiance and next to a big round Macy’s store and a Citibank branch. Last year I did a second post in which I included over 20 photos of the house and street where Mary Sendek lived. In total the post covered a period of more than 100 years.

Since my post last year, I have come across even more photos and information. These new items continue to add to the story of the unlikely neighbors on Queens Boulevard and 55th Avenue, Mary Sendek and Macy’s department store.

1. 1971 Daily News Photo
Seeing people walking so casually near the house makes me wonder if they ever thought it was strange when they saw it. Did they know the story of Mary and her defiance of Macy’s? Did they wonder why she did it?

2. 1971 Daily News Photo II
Although the Daily News didn’t print this photo until early April of 1984, it looks to be taken around the same time as the first shot. More people walking right past the house, no big thing to them.

3. 1940 Panorama Of Tax Photos
I spliced together several tax photos to get an idea of what Mary Sendek’s side of the street looked like in 1940 and her neighbors. Blackman Plumbing Supply, which is still in business today, stood next to her house on the right side.

4. Sendek House In Color 
Circa 1970 and the interesting thing for me is the photo reveals how well kept the house looks. The black and whites are a little unfair to it perhaps. Many thanks to Herb Shatz who directed me to this image. Herb helps run several Facebook groups with me including Old Images of New York 1950-1989 where we posted this photo first.

Is The House Still There?
Unfortunately no, and this is the question I get more about the house than any other. When Mary died in 1980 her family sold the house and developers demolished it and constructed the building, almost to the exact length of her property, that still stands on it today.

Demolition of Round Macy’s?
A rumor developed about a year ago that the big round former Macy’s, now a Target and other stores, was going to be demolished to be replaced for new residences. But just as quickly as it started, it was denied by the property owner. Who knows what will happen now with the world turned upside down, but as of the last reporting the building wasn’t going anywhere.

Photos of The “Sendek Notch”
The “Sendek Notch” was a cut that had to be made into round Macy’s because the far corner of Mary’s property actually went over into the circle that was the Macy’s structure. Below are some great photos, taken by Old Images of Queens group member Gary Dunaier, which examine the notch and property in ways I have never seen before.

Notch Photo 1
Looking west towards the notch. The notch’s creation actually cost Macy’s the loss of two parking spaces on the upper level. I wonder if there was ever a time, maybe before Christmas, that all the other spaces were full and a couple of shoppers couldn’t get into the store because they couldn’t find a space. (Photo taken by Gary Dunaier.)

Notch Photo 2
Taken looking east, and when I saw this Gary Dunaier shot I thought for a moment that the HSBC was expanding upward by about twenty stories, but it is actually a new apartment building going up across the street on the other side of 55th Avenue. (Gary Dunaier)

Notch Photo 3
Another shot reveals how tight space was and still is between Macy’s, the building that went up in the Sendek house space, as well as the round Citibank that went up just a few years after Macy’s. (Gary Dunaier)

Something About Mary
I’ve had a few conversations with Marjorie Melikian over the years. She is the historian at First Presbyterian Church of Newtown, which sits only a few feet from where the Sendek house footprint once was. Marjorie told me that back in the day she walked past the Sendek house and knew Mary. Marjorie says that a man who she believed was her husband was not in good health at the time may have been what affected her decision to sell.

Marjorie also sensed that Mary wasn’t given a lot of time to decide on Macy’s offer, that Mary had second thoughts, but by then it was too late, construction had already started, and Macy’s was no longer interested in her house. Marjorie also says that Mary loved her home and flower & vegetable gardens on her property.¬†Another sign of how much she may have loved it there.

What Does It All Mean
The Sendek family always seems to have wanted to move on quietly from the chapter of the house. I sometimes feel I am intruding on something I shouldn’t be getting into, that this should all be left alone. I find it interesting that so many people can’t fathom her decision to turn down Macy’s offer. There is a certain admiration some of us have for her, whatever the real reason for her decision.

Maybe there are things more important than money, maybe if you live in the same house for thirty or forty years it becomes such a part of you that you can’t willingly leave it. In April 2020, a time in which we all suddenly have no choice but to stay in our homes most of the time, maybe nothing is more important, than being in the house you want to be in.

Leave a comment


  1. I should have said, the notch must have affected two or so spaces on every level. So about 10 parking spaces at least were probably impacted by the notch.

  2. patricia quinde

     /  April 13, 2020



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