Another historical RVC home, another great story


Welcome, friends, to another column from the Rockville Centre Historical Society. Before diving in, we wanted to thank all those who helped support our May fundraisers. We had over 100 people attend our first annual Night at the Museum on May 18. Attendees enjoyed light refreshments and music, with numerous people touring the museum.

Many of the guests had never previously been in the museum. I think it’s safe to say that those who toured were fascinated by some of the displays, exhibits and photos.  The following day, May 19, we hosted our annual Appraisal Day, which attracted another 40 people. These hopeful folks each brought a few personal treasures to be valued by professional appraiser Phil Weiss. One attendee had an item valued at $14,000!

Much of the content for this column comes from the “Then and Now” series you can find on our website and social media. The series examines historically significant residential and commercial properties that contributed to the village you see today. I’d like to thank Trustees Alene Scoblete, Matt Cliszis and Debbie Fehringer. They have exhaustively researched the properties and stories presented here, on our website and socials. They typically say the research is very time-consuming, but also very rewarding. We’ll be offering a program in the fall that will offer attendees instructions and tips on how to research their own property.

Then and Now: A well-known house on the corner of North Village and Lakeview avenues — photos available on our website — was built circa 1897 by Charles W. Goodwin. Goodwin purchased a plot of land, then stretching from Village to Harvard Avenue, from Francis Wilson for $1,800, and spent $11,000 building the home, which was reportedly designed by the famous architectural firm McKim, Mead and White.

Goodwin, an English immigrant who was born in 1848, moved from Park Slope, Brooklyn to RVC and initially lived just a few hundred feet south, at 263 North Village, in a farmhouse built around 1870 that still stands. When the larger house was built, it had all the modern conveniences — plumbing, basic electric and gas lighting. Over time, the basement was upgraded, with the addition of a 30-foot shuffleboard court. The basement bar was also rumored to be quite active during Prohibition.

Goodwin was an early adopter, and a salesman of some of New York’s first automobiles, and had a sales office on Fulton Street in Brooklyn. After moving to RVC, he set up Goodwin Motor Sales, on the corner of Park Avenue and Observer Street, now Sunrise Highway, that his sons, Frank and Arthur, would later take over after returning home from World War I.

Goodwin specialized in selling REO Speed Wagons and sedans — yes, that’s where the band got its name — and later also owned the local Dodge dealership. The Goodwins also donated a large amount of money to help build the original white marble St. Agnes Catholic Church (before today’s large cathedral) on College Place.

In 1922, the family sold the large home to the wealthy Vanderveer family. The Vanderveers were early Dutch settlers of New York, and owned large swaths of land in Brooklyn and Queens. They sold acreage in Flushing when purchasing the home.

The house is extremely well preserved, with detailed wood moldings, stained and leaded glass windows, and multiple original fireplaces. The home has only had seven owners in its 127 years, and all, thankfully, have been focused on preservation of its historic character. It is a classic representation of RVC’s large homes and estates at the turn of the century.

Who knew? If you’ve been finding these stories about the village’s past interesting and want to learn more, visit our website, There is an abundance of stories about significant properties and happenings in and around the village during the late 1800s and early 1900s. We also offer tours of the museum and additional events and programming. Tours are by appointment only. You can get more information about arranging a tour and upcoming events by calling the museum at (516) 670-5737, emailing, or visiting the website.

Jim Belling is a member of the board of trustees of the Phillips House Museum and the Rockville Centre Historical Society.