Profile page for Wilmarth Brothers, 2018 Hall of Fame Honorees

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Wilmarth Pioneers

 Wilmarth Brothers;  From LtoR:George, Albert, Harold, Richard, and Teddy Wilmarth; the
        Wilmarth Pioneers

After wedding Jennie Lobel in 1885, George L. Wilmarth sired six boys and four girls in Brooklyn. However, this branch of the Wilmarth family was not destined to remain in Brooklyn. In 1907, George’s family joined the tent colony on the bay in Rockaway Point for the summer months. Eventually, a bungalow was built out of driftwood at 919 Bayside near what became Ocean Avenue. And from that location, several of his sons became increasingly involved in developing Rockaway Point and Roxbury which at that time were leased by, and eventually owned and operated by, a sequence of companies owned by last year’s Honoree, Philip Howard Reid Sr., and his son. One son, Theodor “Ted” Wilmarth, captained a freight ferry during the 1920s from Sheepshead Bay to the docks at Roxbury, Rockaway Point and Breezy Point. The freight ferry was the means by which food and supplies were brought to the community in the days before the construction of the Marine Parkway Bridge.

Another son, Robert Leonard Wilmarth, an engineer and a plumber, moved to Roxbury in 1926. Afterward he operated the pumping station which drew water from the subsurface aquifer to the water tower which supplied Roxbury’s needs. “Chief Engineer” Robert Wilmarth explained that water was supplied from three wells, each 728 feet deep, which, after being filtered, was directed by up to 60 pounds of pressure into piping ten feet beneath the surface and from there to the expanding colony’s bungalows. In the absence of a municipal water supply, the operation saved the company from having to maintain an enormous reservoir of drinking water. When the water tower was later demolished, the pumping station was converted to a residence where two of Robert’s children, Richard and Georgeann, were born.

Another of the brothers, George Reynold Wilmarth, became the head carpenter for the Rockaway Point Operating Company constructing many of the bungalows in the expanding summer colony. George Reynold also operated Philip Howard Reid’s hardware store which at that time was located at the corner of Bedford Avenue and Bayside until it was moved to Market Street. George continued its operation until his death in 1950. He was also a member of the Rockaway Point Volunteer Fire Department.

Harold Edward Wilmarth, another plumber, later partnered with Robert in also operating the hardware stores in Rockaway Point and Breezy Point. Albert Victor, who also had plumbing skills, worked for the Brooklyn Union Gas Company and occasionally in the hardware store. Richard Arthur Wilmarth started as an entrepreneur by operating a confectionary stand and coffee shop on the State Road opposite Fort Tilden in 1929. His career path also intersected with Philip Howard Reid when, starting in 1935, he was hired to be the rent collector for Roxbury by the Rockaway Point Operating Company and then was hired as the company’s Secretary-Treasurer. He also became Reid’s silent partner in the Colony Inn, at the foot of Reid Avenue and Bayside. Richard Arthur Wilmarth, with his sons, also formed the Wilmarth Contracting Company which built many of the expanding colony’s bungalows along with its docks and boardwalks. Richard’s son, George, continued the contracting business into the 1980s and 1990s, and estimated that they had constructed at least a couple of hundred homes. Richard Arthur Wilmarth also joined the Rockaway Point Volunteer Fire Department, for which he served as Chief of the Department from 1951 to 1953, during which time the Fire House was built on Rockaway Point Boulevard. Richard was honored by the Department in 1974 when a fire engine dedicated in his name.