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Bowne House Annual Meeting 2013

Dear Members and Friends of Bowne House:

On May 21st 2013 at 6:00 p.m. the members of the Bowne House Historical Society will hold their 2013 Annual Meeting. This year, while our preservation project is underway, we will meet at the nearby Voelker Orth Museum and Gardens. 149-19 38th Avenue, Flushing 11354. We are very grateful to the museum for hosting us and hope you will join us for this event.

We have much to report. Preservation work began early this year; asbestos has been removed from the 1661 house and from the garage, the majority of the windows have been removed to be preserved, preparations are starting for some structural stabilization in the kitchen area, and roof and siding repairs or replacement. Other repairs to the exterior of the structure will be made as needed.

Work is being performed by the firm of AAH Construction, under the supervision of our project manager, Steven Foxworth of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation Capital Division and Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, our preservationists who prepared the plans for the project. The preservation is guided by our historic structures report (HSR), prepared in 2006 for the Bowne House Historical Society. The HSR is a detailed document which describes the acquisition of the property by John Bowne, the social history of the occupants and of the Flushing area, the stages of construction of the house, and repairs and refurbishments made during various periods of occupancy. The report includes many illustrations and photographs documenting the appearance of Bowne House and the surrounding area over time, including a number from the 1936 HABS survey done by the US government.

This phase, the exterior preservation, is expected to take approximately 14 months. When completed, the both the structural condition and appearance of the house will be vastly improved.

Additionally, planning is underway for construction of a new education and visitor center which will replace a garage now on the property. The visitor center will contain offices, ADA compliant restrooms, additional display space and climate controlled storage for our many collections which cannot be exhibited in the main house, as well as a meeting / gallery space. The visitor center is approximately 1000 square feet and its appearance will be compatible with our 17th century house. After various approval processes needed for a landmarked property, construction is expected to start later this year.

Capital funding for the preservation and for construction of the visitors center will utilize public funding allocated for that purpose; these funds are being administered by Parks. To date, over $7,000,000 has been raised for these projects.

We would like to acknowledge the generosity of our elected officials, Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall, Comptroller John Liu, and former senator Frank Padavan for their support of these projects. Without their commitment, and the generous support of our membership, this restoration would not have been possible.

In addition to preparing for the preservation, the Society has had another busy year of programs and activities. This past October, we hosted a benefit in Manhattan. Our Historic Preservation Award was presented to Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. In her 8 years in office, Borough President Marshall has been a great benefactor of cultural and educational institutions in Queens, including Bowne House.

The Bowne House Museum was highlighted in the Godwin-Ternbach Museum, Queens College, CUNY exhibition, RE-FORMING THE IMAGE IN NORTHERN EUROPE IN THE DUTCH GOLDEN AGE, February 4, 2013 – April 27, 2013, an exhibition curated by Christopher Atkins, Queens College, Art History & Dutch Art seminar students.  Donald Friary, chair of our museum advisory committee, leaded a tour of the house March 5, focusing on the unique architecture of the house.  James Moore a professor at QC Anthropology presented in conjunction with the exhibition a lecture: “A Survey of the Bowne Historic House: the Anglo-Dutch Context in Perspective”.

We have continued our student internship and mentoring programs; students from local schools work at the museum, learning about American history while acquiring a variety of skills. Some work in the gardens, learning about horticulture and sustainable gardening techniques.  Other interns learn office and research skills, and are scanning our archives for material, such as paint analysis studies, which will help guide the preservation.. Last summer an intern documented the archeology work, where an approximate 20’ x 10’ cobble stone area was uncovered.  Currently, interns are working to document preservation work underway at the house.  The interns have been photographing the process and provide pictures for our archives, our newsletter, and our website and Facebook page. Please check our website at www.bownehouse.org for updates.

Our horticulture program is benefiting from the donation of a new garden shed, provided through a grant from Councilman Peter Koo. Our former shed was demolished during a storm. The new shed will provide storage and a staging area for our gardening efforts.

We once again joined in the annual Flushing Historic House Holiday tour, welcoming visitors to our 17th and 18th century parlor, which was decorated for the season. We were happy to see a number of descendants visiting the house for the first time. We are continuing to take part in It’s My Park Day, a volunteer effort to beautify the downtown Flushing area.  Over 6000 daffodils have been planted around the Bowne House property and in the Daniel Carter Beard Mall adjacent to the 1694 Flushing Meeting House and the 1862 Flushing Town Hall.

We have many groups to thank this year: John Bowne High School Agriculture Program, Flushing International High School, Flushing YMCA, Tsi Chu Foundation, CPC Youth division, Godwin-Ternbach Museum, Queens College, CUNY, Latimer House Museum, Queens County Farm Museum and the Volker Orth Museum

We would also like to thank those individuals and foundations who gave so generously: the Bowne Family Foundation, Colonial Lords of Manors in America, the Gerson Family Foundation, New York Community Trust, Octagon Foundation, Queensboro Hill Community Church, Valley Charitable Trust, as well as many individual donors. We are deeply appreciative of your support for Bowne House and its mission.

If you are a current member or Life Member, please review the enclosed forms and sign and return the ballot. If you would like to join or make a contribution to our operations and education fund, or to our endowment or restoration funds, we would be particularly grateful. All donations are fully deductible for tax purposes.

Thank you again for your support of Bowne House, and we hope to see you at the Annual Meeting.


Morris Hylton