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FWDunton.jpg (44206 bytes) Originally farmland, this is the area where the American Revolutionary War Hero, General Nathaniel Woodhull was captured not far from Carpenter's Inn, wounded and taken into custody for refusing to say "God Save the King."  During this War, British General Howe ordered an encampment on the high ground atop the "terminal morraine" just north of present day Hillside Avenue. There the King's occupational forces had a commanding view of American troop movements all the way to Jamaica Bay. Howe was determined to halt the redeployment of cattle to the far end of Long Island in an effort to deprive, starve and foil his Army.

Frederick W. Dunton (1851-1931) pictured on the left was born in Newton, New Hampshire and grew up in Hollis, New Hampshire. Dunton was born into wealth. His mother was a sister of Austin Corbin, President of the Long Island Railroad. Dunton, a history buff and real estate developer, capitalized on his position. Dunton built his home on the very same high ground used by General Howe's lookouts to discover and capture General Woodhull. From here he would oversee home building and development operations. In 1884, East Jamaica, as the area had been called, was renamed by Dunton and Hollis was founded. Dunton had grown up in Hollis, New Hampshire and so he called his new residence "Hollis Hall.." Dunton also founded the Bank of Jamaica to help finance operations. He had been elected to the Board of Supervisors of Queens County in 1868 and re-elected in 1896. Dunton served as Supervisor of the Town of Jamaica. He is buried at Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens. Hollis Hall was located on what is now Dunton Avenue in Holliswood. After Dunton's death Hollis Hall was sold and became a restaurant named Brown's Chop House. It is rumored to have been a speakeasy during prohibition. When prohibition ended it was torn down. In 1949 the hill on which it stood was leveled and the Holliswood Garden Apartments were built.

Now a culturally-diverse neighborhood of Victorian and other architecturally varying homes the main shopping streets are Jamaica and Hillside avenues. Hollis is a geographically key location to "the City" because of its proximity to the LIRR Jamaica hub, the 179th Street Subway, the Jamaica bus station and Grand Central Parkway. It is midway between JFK and Laguardia Airports. Famous Hollis residents have included:

  • American General Nathaniel Woodhull captured in Hollis on Aug. 28, 1776 by British. Wounded, he died aboard a prison ship in a N.Y. harbor.
  • Frederick W. Dunton, President of the Long Island Railroad, develops Hollis in area previously known as East Jamaica. Hollis was named for Dunton's birthplace in Hollis, New Hampshire.
  • Mario Cuomo: His fiery rhetoric earned him popularity among Democratic politicians. The former 54th Governor of the State of New York was born in South Jamaica and lived in Holliswood.
  • Andrew Cuomo, son of former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, grew up in Hollis, later married Kathleen Kennedy and moved to a home in Douglas Manor. Appointed Secretary of Housing and Urban Development by President Clinton in 1997.
  • Andrew Young, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
  • Dr. Gerald Deas, physician and columnist
  • Andy Rooney from 60 Minutes attended PS 35
  • Humorist Art Buchwald
  • Alfred H Griebe, Radio Pioneer
  • Musicians Roy Eldridge and Sonny Terry
  • Rapper L.L. Cool J.
  • Lyricist and composer Irving "Lord" Burgie
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 5-Star General Colin Powell
  • Rappers Joseph Simmons, Darryl McDaniels and Jason Mizell of Run-DMC. Run-DMC, a pioneer in rap is famous for the hit single "Christmas in Hollis."
  • Phil Schaap, Jazz historian and radio personality
  • Lester and Amelia Allen who played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Martin Luther King's widow, Coretta Scott King,  was a frequent visitor to their Hollis Park Gardens home in the 1970's.
  • Williams, Clarence: He lived with his wife, Eva Taylor, at 171-37 107 Ave. in Hollis. Born in Louisiana, he rose through the ranks as a singer, composer, pianist, record producer and publisher. He claimed to be the first person to use the word "jazz" on a piece of sheet music.
  • Sydney Olympic sprinter Ato Bolden moved with his family from Trinidad to Jamaica, Queens in 1988 and ran track for Jamaica High School. Jamaica High was also privileged to have Larry Ellis, the head coach of the 1984 United States Olympic men's track and field team, the first African-American head coach in any Ivy League sport and the former president of Track and Field's National governing body. Ellis coached at Jamaica High School in Queens, where his best athlete was Bob Beamon, a future Olympic champion and world record-holder in the long jump.
The Jamaica and Hempstead Turnpike Company was incorporated on March 20, 1812. The incorporators were,- Samuel Carman, Joseph Pettit, Abraham Bell, Laurence Seaman, William Nichols, John Lefferts, Lewis Hewlett, James Hendrickson, and William Lott.

A road was constructed from the house of Charles McNeill at Grand St. Jamaica, along the line of present Jamaica Avenue to the present Hempstead Turnpike, along the line of that road, to the house of Isaac Clowes in the Town of Hempstead, about ten miles in all.

About 1863, the road became a plank road. Plank Roads became immensely popular. Hemlock, pine or oak planks, eight feet long and three to four inches in thickness, were laid across the road at right angles to its length. If laid lengthwise of the road, horses were more liable to slip and the ends would sometimes ride up. If laid obliquely, one end would tend to spring up when the weight of the vehicles pressed unbalanced upon the other end. The planks were put in sleepers, and sand was put on the planks.

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A toll gate stood at East Jamaica (Hollis); at 174th St. which was later called the East Gate. John Watts was the last toll gate keeper, until the toll was abolished, about 1893. The second gate stood at Elmont, near the present county line, and the third at West Hempstead. Colonel Aaron A. Degraw was the President of the Company. The Road was sold in 1897, in part to Queens Co. and to Nassau Co. A trolley line was built at that time to Belmont Park, which soon was continued to Hempstead. Busses have since replaced the trolley cars.  Below is a photo of a Hollis school.

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Last modified: May 01, 2008