Ben Roubin

Memories of growing up at Villanova Court, a bungalow resort in Coney Island, in the 1950s and '60s

Ben Roubin
Interview Date:
March 30, 2023


Born in 1952, Ben Roubin shares memories of growing up at Villanova Court, a summer bungalow colony between the Boardwalk and Surf Avenue in Coney Island next to Sea Gate.  From the mid-1950s through 1968, his family co-owned and operated the resort, which had about 50 apartments steps away from the beach. It catered to middle-class New Yorkers, and featured a patio, lounge chairs, handball and basketball courts, and outdoor movie nights.  "We played stickball right there on the patio," Roubin says, "if you hit the ball on the patio, it was a single; if you hit it on the boardwalk it was a double; if you hit the ball past the boardwalk onto the beach, it was a triple; and if you hit it all the way over the fence into Sea Gate, it was a home run."

He also recalls an elaborate system that he and a friend devised to fish for coins that had fallen between the slats of the patio. With these dimes and nickels and the deposits from bottles found on the beach, he'd go to the arcades and to Steeplechase Park, where he collected punched ride tickets for an end-of- the-day raffle and won a bike. "I think '68 was our last year," Roubin remembers. "That year and a couple of years before that, things were doing downhill. The beach was really dirty. The water was very polluted." Villanova Court was demolished in early 1970.