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Gustave X. Mathews and the G.X. Mathews Company32

Ridgewood’s best-known builder, Gustave Xavier Mathews,33 was born in Rodalben, Palatinate, Germany in 1871. His parents, Xavier and Rosa Matheis, and their five sons immigrated to the United States in 1886, settling in New York, and later, on Myrtle Avenue in Bushwick by 1900. Shortly after, Gustave Mathews married Clara Kuntz, daughter of Louis (Ludwig) Kuntz, a prominent builder in the Bushwick-Ridgewood area. It was from his father-in- law that Mathews learned the building trade, working with Kuntz and his partner, John Dreher. 34

With his wife Clara, Mathews had four sons, Ernest L., Curtis X., William E. and Gustave X. Jr., who later became active in their father’s business. Mathews married a second time in 1917, several years after his first wife’s death, and had a daughter, Rose Claire. After over fifty years as a developer and builder in Queens, Mathews died at the age of 88 in 1958.

Gustave X. Mathews began purchasing former farmland in Brooklyn and Queens County just after the turn of the 20th century, and was one of the first builders to start developing the Queens section of Ridgewood. In 1904, the Mathews Realty and Construction Company of Queens was incorporated with G.X. Mathews and two of his brothers, William F. and Ernest, as its directors. Mathews first began building on a large scale on Grove, Linden and Bleecker Streets, near the Brooklyn border and the last stop of the elevated Myrtle Avenue train. Like the other turn-of-the-century multi-family houses developed in Bushwick and Ridgewood, the

32 This section is based on the following sources: Schubel, 119-120; United States Federal Census: 1880, 1900, 1920, 1930; “Gustave Mathews, Queens Builder, 88,” New York Times (September 23, 1958), 33; “Albert F. Mathews,” New York Times (September 28, 1958), 89; “Dr. William F. Mathews,” New York Times (March 15, 1960), 39; “Ernest Mathews,” New York Times (January 24, 1932), 28; “New York Incorporations,” New York Times (August 5, 1904), 8; “Why ‘Mathews’ Model Flats’ Excel All Others” advertisement, Ridgewood Times (October 23, 1913); “Classified Ad No. 8,” New York Times (August 7, 1960), R14; “A Past Preserved,” Ridgewood Times (Decemeber 9, 1980), G1; “Building of the Home as a Matter of Economy,” Ridgewood Times (April 19, 1913), 8; “Growing Queens District,” New York Times (March 29, 1914), 5; “The Real Estate Field,” New York Times (February 28, 1911), 16; “The Real Estate Field, New York Times (December 10, 1913), 20; “Ridgewood’s Great Growth,” Ridgewood Times (December 31, 1914), 2:2; “Old Farms Now Tenement City,” Ridgewood Times (April 29, 1915), 6:3; “Active Building in Queens Borough,” New York Times (June 19, 1921), 94; “Latest Dealing in Realty Field,” New York Times (November 4, 1922), 26; “Manhattan and Suburban Apartment House Projects,” New York Times (September 7, 1924), RE2; “Plan for More Mathews Flats,” New York Times (May 3, 1925), RE2; “New Home Centre Created in Queens,” New York Times (January 17, 1926), RE1; “Market Stability Depends on Rents,” New York Times (December 12, 1926), RE7; “Steady Demand for Sunnyside Homes,” New York Times (August 14, 1927), E18; “Four-Family Home in Long Island City,” New York Times (October 2, 1927), E11; “Suburban Home Sold,” New York Times (August 7, 1932), RE2; “Small Houses Lead Long Island Realty Activity,” New York Times (April 9, 1933), RE1; “Last Group of Two- Family Houses,” New York Times (August 30, 1942), RE8; “Our Neighborhood the Way it Was,” Times Newsweekly (October 2, 2008) available on-line at: http://www.timesnewsweekly.com/news/2008/1002/Columns/050.html; “Our Neighborhood the Way it Was,” Times Newsweekly (September 20, 2001) available on-line at: http://www.timesnewsweekly.com/common/archives/Archives2001/092001/NewFiles/OURNEIGH.html.

33

G. X. Matheis legally changed, or “Americanized,” his name to Mathews in 1907.

34 Mathews and Dreher purchased six lots on Grove Street, north of Cypress Avenue in 1902 and shortly after constructed 6, 3-story buildings. “Queens Borough,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle (December 22, 1902), 18.

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