There’s history hiding just under your nose in the Five Towns. Like most areas of Long Island, the shops and homes of yesteryear have been torn down and rebuilt, but with a little bit of digging the past can come rushing back.
Driving through Inwood along Bayview Avenue, one may take notice of St. Mary’s Manor, a nursing home between Doughty Boulevard and Lord Avenue. What’s not readily apparent is that location’s history.
After emigrating from Germany in 1870, John B. Muller, opened a butcher’s shop at that location in 1873. Muller’s father had taught him the trade before he came to America. The store was named John B. Muller’s Market until 1899, when the region then known as Westville officially became Inwood, and his market became John B. Muller’s Inwood Market.
Muller sold prime meats to customers throughout the Five Towns and the Rockaways. His wife, Louise Blakeley, became the cashier, and their four children helped out around the shop. The family’s home was in the back of the shop and upstairs.
Muller’s great-grandson, Bruce Halderman, the founder and president of the Inwood Historical and Preservation Society, heard many stories from his grandmother, Dorothy, about the family market when he was growing up. “I have a lot of fond memories of listening to her talk about the family business when I was growing up,” he said.
While Halderman can’t recall any specific stories from his grandmother of the celebrities of the time stopping by, he said that he wouldn’t be surprised to find out that some had frequented the shop. He said they had plenty of customers from the Rockaways, which at the time were a popular vacation spot for the elite of New York City.
Muller died in 1924, and his family sold the building three years later. It was then a family residence until St. Mary’s Manor purchased the property in 1980.
The building is gone, but the memory of John B. Muller’s Inwood Market lives on with his family. The Five Towns has changed a much over the past 100 years, and most likely there are stories like John Muller’s hidden on every street corner.