End of Year Letter 2010
November 20, 2010
Dear Members and Friends of Bowne House:
I am pleased to report that Bowne House is looking forward to celebrating its 350th anniversary in 2011. We will be planning events to commemorate this occasion, and will keep you informed as these plans evolve. Please check our website at www.bownehouse.org for updates.
Without a doubt, the best news this year was the grant from Queens Borough President Helen Marshall in the amount of $1,500,000. This generous allocation will allow us to begin work on the museum and also on the new multi-purpose visitors’ center.
During 2010, we have been actively planning both our restoration and construction of the new multi-purpose building at the site. This has been a complicated process and with our partners in this venture, Historic House Trust of New York and New York City Parks, we are nearing completion of the multiple planning and review stages and are moving forward towards actual construction. In the interim, some urgently needed minor repairs have been made on the house and our very old boiler has been rebuilt in order ensure proper heating while we await new systems.
The restoration of the house will first involve replacement of our aging and decaying cedar shake roof, which is at the end of its natural lifespan. Next, the frame of the house will be strengthened. Some parts will be restored or replaced as needed, in accordance with the guidelines in our historic structures report. Once that has been completed, new mechanical and plumbing systems will be installed. The final step will be period-appropriate finishes and re-installation of the collections.
We have continued our local outreach with some very successful student programs throughout 2010.
We hosted a tour by a class from our neighbor, Flushing High School. The students learned about American history, John Bowne, and the Quakers, with a bit of English history added for background. They then adapted and updated a play about John Bowne from our archives and staged a performance at the school. Letters from students after their visit demonstrated that there was a great deal of interest in 17th century family life, customs, habits, and values.
Our student interns continued to work throughout the year; we again celebrated with a picnic in the garden. The gathering included students and parents, leaders of local civic groups, as well as some of our elected officials. We were honored to have a number of our past museum docents at the picnic.
Other highlights of 2010 include:
- Our very successful event “Autumn in the Park” which took place on October 6th at the Central Park Arsenal rooftop garden. We were pleased to see so many NY area friends, members, and descendants. Our special guest was Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.
- We were invited to give the address at the John Bowne High School graduation in June. Descendant Penelope Perryman had this honor several years ago. This year’s address may be found online and also in our newsletter.
- We again participated in the Million Trees NYC Program, acting as a distribution center and also published an informational tree care brochure in Chinese, Korean and Spanish, the first such translation for this city-wide program.
- We welcomed a new trustee, Annette L. Geddes. Annette is a graduate of Wellesley College; she served as President-General of the Colonial Dames of America and as President of the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of New York. Annette had a distinguished career as an investment professional, serving as a senior officer of Banker’s Trust, JP Morgan, and several New York hedge funds and investment firms.
While we remain closed for regular tours, we have been able to open to visitors on a limited basis by appointment. As we did in 2009, we will once again take part in the Downtown Flushing Holiday Tour and will be receiving visitors on December 12th from 1:00 to 3:30. Please join us if you are in the area.
In closing, in behalf of all the trustees, we would like to thank you for your continued support of the museum and its mission. We are particularly grateful to our elected officials, Borough President Marshall, NYS Senator Frank Padavan, and Comptroller John Liu (formerly City Council member). We would also like to acknowledge the support of Bowne & Co., Inc. and the following foundations: Baumbusch, Bray’s Island, Colonial Lords of Manor, Flushing Cemetery Association, Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg, Gerson Family, Nautilus, Octagon and Thorne Foundations, as well as of our individual members. We are indebted to our superb pro-bono legal team at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP. And of course we are grateful to our loyal members and descendants.
We would also like to thank our resident manager, Anne Perl de Pal, who has watched over Bowne House while arranging our local outreach, coordinating with local schools and civic groups, and organizing and supervising our student intern and other programs.
As a professional architect, Anne is well equipped to deal with old houses. We are very fortunate to have her with us.
Bowne House was built on donor support and we continue to depend on generous donors like you for our operating budget and educational programs. Your gift helps us hold fast to the mission that our founders set out over 60 years ago – to be educational in purpose and to be a source of inspiration for future generations.
If you wish to make a gift you may download a form online. If you have not already made a donation, please consider doing so now. You may designate your desired purpose on this form. All donations are fully tax deductible.
Thank you again, Happy Holidays and best wishes for 2011.
Rosemary S. Vietor