|Friday, June 13, 1997 :: History :: 8133 Views ::
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The Mettco Club building was also erected facing Casino Park in the years before World War I The three-story building on Nolins (165th) Avenue was designed by Sanford White. It had a huge front porch with overhead awning and a second porch outside the second story. Tennis courts were built north of the building and a flag pole and flower garden placed out front.
The Mettco Club became a regular stop during the Ramblersville Mardi Gras, which was highlighted by a costumed parade of boats and residents along Hawtree Creek to The Casino (where one's thirst would be quenched) and back, with a stop at the Mettco Club (probably for more refreshments) in between.
The Mettco Club was sold in the 1920s to the Yokohama Bank and it was turned into the Japanese -American Club, where Japanese employees of the bank in New York could go for recreation and clean fresh air
A good number of folks of Japanese ancestry had settled near the bay since the 19th century. Expert farmers, they were among the many folks who operated farms and nurseries in the local area. Notable among them was George "Tet " Fuchigami, on Old South (Albert) Road in Aqueduct. George's huge farm was gradually diminished as land had to be ceded for the construction of the Belt Parkway; the family continued their nursery into the 1980s.
The Japanese-American Club would be closed following the attack on Pearl Harbor It has long been rumored locally that a number of members of the club resisted government efforts to place them in camps during World War II and hid out on the weedy islands of Jamaica Bay, getting fresh water and supplies from friendly locals. Readers with further information on this subject are urged to come forward.
After the Second World War the Mettco, building became the Howard Beach Jewish Center, with tennis courts. Meier Kahane was the Rabbi there in the 1950s. The building was removed in the early 1960s and replaced with houses.
In the decade before World War I the U.S. Navy contracted dredging for a proposed submarine base within Jamaica Bay. Naval dredging gave Howard even more sand for the tip of his beach. Sand was pumped ashore through twelve-inch pipes onto West Hamilton Beach, then being developed.
William A. Hamilton, a Queens Engineer and Realtor As quickly as it started the project seemed to be cancelled or moved elsewhere. Hamilton was very pleased with all the deposited sand despite the lack of any submarines.
The Shellbank Canal was also dug out of the marsh at this time. This huge, man-made trench was a mile long, three hundred feet wide and ninety feet deep upon its completion. It's banks were suddenly beaches and folks swam at the 95th St. beach (just below 158th Ave.) into the late 1950s. The sand dredged from the marsh to build Shellbank Canal was dumped to the west, raising the land that would later support Cross Bay Blvd. from the high tides.