John W. Rapp House in Queens
Image from the Queens Public Library

Every New York City borough has its fair share of lost mansions. Today, we are revisiting the lost mansions of Queens. Now New York City’s most diverse borough and the second most populated, the development of Queens began with farmland and suburbs. Western areas of Queens, which offered an easy commute into Manhattan but lots of land to spread out on, attracted the wealthy families of New York. There are still standalone mansions that you can spot throughout the borough, but here we revisit the country estates and follies that have been long forgotten…

1. Bodine Castle, Long Island City

Bodine Castle, a lost mansion of Queens

This fantastical castle has inspired fantastical backstories. It was rumored that it was built by a fleeing French nobleman or that it was the headquarters of a secret society. The truth, however, is that it was built by a wealthy grocer, John Bodine, in 1853. Located at 43-16 Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, the mansion was made of immense granite blocks and had a copper roof. It boasted a crenelated watchtower, Gothic windows, and a tunnel to the beach. These tunnels were a popular feature of grand mansions along the East River. These tunnels were used by servants to go back and forth from the house to the beach to serve guests while they lounged or partied.

Bodine lived at this castle like a king until 1880. Upon his death, the castle sat vacant for many years. It was eventually bought by a lumber company, William P. Young & Brothers. The company used the castle for offices and storage space. In 1962, the property was purchased by ConEd. Despite attempts to save the building with landmark status, the building was demolished.