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Vintage Postcards of Bayside, New York

John Golden Estate
© Bayside Historical Society

John Golden Estate

Bayside had been home to many early theatre and film actors including W.C. Fields, Norma Talmadge, Marie Dressler, and Rudolph Valentino, all of whom found the idyllic beauty of Bayside within easy reach of Manhattan. Another famous film star who discovered Bayside was Pearl White (1889-1938). Starring in over 200 movies, White is best remembered for her role in The Perils of Pauline. She lived in the mansion seen in this postcard until her divorce from her husband, actor Wallace McCutcheon, in 1920. White retired from the movie industry to live in France until her death in 1938.

John Golden (1874-1955) purchased the 17-acre estate from White in 1920 and lived in Bayside with his wife, Margaret, for more than a quarter of a century. Golden was a well-known Broadway producer, playwright and composer. Some of his more famous productions included Seventh Heaven, The First Year, Three Wise Fools, and The Male Animal. His greatest success was Lightin. The show ran for more than 1200 performances (a record that has since been broken) starring Frank Bacon, also a resident of Bayside. Golden was also instrumental in founding ASCAP in 1914, as well as serving on the Board of Directors of the City Center of Music and Drama. It was on an excursion to Bayside with the theatrical fraternity known as The Lambs Club that introduced Golden to Bayside.

Upon moving into the mansion, Golden immediately opened his doors to the community. He sponsored Easter egg hunts on the great lawn, baseball diamonds were established for the children, caddies from the various golf courses of Bayside were invited to practice on his estate, and afternoon strollers were freely permitted to walk the grounds.

Golden was affectionately known as “Mr. Bayside” and upon his death in 1955 he bequeathed the estate to the City of New York as a park “for the use and enjoyment by the young people of the community of all races and creeds in a manner similar to that in which I made this property available for recreation and community acts during my lifetime.” The John Golden Park was dedicated on October 18, 1965. Speakers at the dedication included Mayor Wagner, Robert Moses, department store owner, Bernard F. Gimbel, cartoonist Rube Goldberg, comedian Harry Hershfield as well as the President of Actors Equity Association, Frederick O’Neal.

Although the mansion, which was located on the east end of the park overlooking Little Neck Bay, had been razed after Golden’s death, the City’s Parks Department installed tennis courts, picnic areas, a parking lot, restored the goldfish pond, and planted additional trees, shrubs and foliage along winding paths that connect directly to adjoining Crocheron Park.

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