November 2014 Year End Letter >>
April 30, 2014
Dear Members and Friends of Bowne House:
On June 10th at 6:00 PM the members of the Bowne House
Historical Society will hold their 2014 Annual Meeting.
This year, while our preservation project is underway,
we will meet at the Voelker Orth Museum and Gardens,
149-19 38th Avenue, Flushing, 11354. We are very grateful
to the museum for hosting our meeting and hope you
will join us for this event.
We have had a busy year: preservation work began last
April 1 and is still underway. After preliminary archaeological
work and removal of asbestos, Phase I, structural stabilization
and exterior restoration was initiated. This phase
includes repairs to the timber frame and foundations
of the house as well as replacement of siding and roofing,
repairs to the chimneys and additional structural work
in the kitchen and laundry areas.
Jan Hird Pokorny Associates are our architects for
this project; construction is under the supervision
of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, Capital
Division. The restoration plans are guided by the Historic
Structures Report prepared for the Bowne House Historical
Society in 2006. The HSR is a detailed document describing
the history of the house and its construction, the
social history of its occupants and of the Flushing
area, stages of construction of the house and repairs
and refurbishments made during the periods of occupancy
by the nine generations of family who lived there.
Additionally, the Society initiated studies of the
dendrochronolgy of the wood, to help determine dates
of construction, and a study of the methods of construction
utilized in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Capital funding for the preservation and for construction
of a proposed new Visitor and Education Center will
utilize public funding allocated for that purpose;
these funds are being held in Parks budget and administered
by them. The Society continues to be responsible for
architects and consultants fees, utilizing private
funding raised for the restoration and interpretation
of the museum.
In addition to its ongoing involvement in the restoration
process, The Society has had an active year. While
our onsite programs have been curtailed due to the
ongoing construction work, we have done our best to
accommodate visiting groups by appointment when work
is not taking place.
- John Bowne High School students helped prepare
for the restoration by relocating materials and taking
photos to document the house and garden before work
- Our annual picnic took place in July.
- We hosted six interns during the summer; they focused
on computer consolidation and record organizing,
horticultural history, and American material culture
and history utilizing our extensive database and
tapping into primary sources for research. An inspection
of one of the major pieces in our collection yielded
clues to its origins and usage over time.
- Through September, volunteers from Beautify Historic
Flushing worked in the Bowne gardens and in other
areas which had comprised the Bowne farm; over 600
hours of community service were performed.
- In October, we participated in Open House NY, an
annual three day event; we received over 100 visitors
even though we were only able to open for one afternoon
because of construction limitations.
- Late fall, we once again planted daffodil bulbs
in public areas of downtown Flushing.
- In December, we once again participated in the
Flushing Historic House Holiday Tour;
this year, we were able to give our visitors a behind
the scenes peek at some recent findings, such as
the historic mud-brick material used as insulation,
and artifacts which had been discovered during archaeological
- On May 12, we will host a lecture and exhibit at
the Flushing Library. The topic of the lecture is
East West Cultural Exchanges and Encounters. Our
speaker is Dr. Janna Weiss. Dr. Weiss has lectured
and taught about herbal medicines, ethnobotany and
comparative medicine. Additional details on this
program may be found on our website.
- Plans are also underway to have an educational
program relating to horticulture this summer. This
will be the fourth year we have offered these programs.
Our horticulture programs have benefited from the
donation of a new garden shed and garden equipment,
provided by an allocation by Councilman Peter Koo,
who has also supported our May 12 program. We have
continued our outreach efforts, expanding our work
in the surrounding area of downtown Flushing and
in our adjacent Weeping Beech Park. Over 600 hours
of public community service was performed by our
volunteers, under the able supervision of Anne Perl
de Pal, our resident manager and volunteer coordinator.
- Once again, early next month, we will host Yale
University students and graduates from the Yale Day
of Service. We would also like to acknowledge the
assistance of students from Bronx Science, Stuyvesant,
Townsend Harris, and Flushing High School. These
volunteers have worked in our office, done research,
helped in our gardens, and performed community service
under our guidance.
- While work is underway, we have been preparing
for the reopening of the museum by updating our interpretation
plan and preparing a new furnishing plan. These plans
are being prepared by Donald Friary, chair of our
Museum Advisory Committee. Don has had extensive
experience in interpretive planning, having been
director of Historic Deerfield for almost 30 years;
in that capacity, he oversaw a number of period house
- We have also taken advantage of the opportunity
to have both our dendrochronology study and our timber
framing analysis updated. Removal of siding has made
previously inaccessible areas visible; early this
year, Bill Callahan (denro) and Rudy Christian (timber
framing) visited Bowne House for additional inspections.
These reports will add to our database of knowledge
about the house and will assist in our interpretation.
We have many people to thank this year. Public funding
for our restoration and for the new Visitor Center
has been provided by several elected officials, but
we would particularly like to mention our former Queens
Borough President, Helen M. Marshall, who has retired
after twelve years in office. Borough President Marshall
has been a champion of education and a major benefactor
of Bowne House; without her support an encouragement
the restoration of the house would have been virtually
impossible. She will be greatly missed.
We would also like to thank Councilman Peter Koo,
who, in addition to supporting our ongoing horticulture
programs and workshops, has provided generous capital
allocations for the restoration of the kitchen and
laundry areas of the house.
Member of Congress, USHR, Grace Meng has proposed
legislation recognizing the Flushing Remonstrance and
John Bowne, proposing HR3222. The bill would authorize
a study of the Remonstrance and Bowne and investigate
the possibility of a establishing a historic district
noting their contributions to the principle of freedom
of religion in America. We support her efforts to recognize
Flushing’s role in American history.
Finally, we are grateful to those individuals and
foundations who gave so generously; among them are
the Acorn Foundation, Colonial Lords of Manors in America,
Flushing Cemetery Foundation, the Gerson Family Foundation,
the New York Community Trust, the Octagon Foundation,
Parsons Family Foundation, Pomeroy Foundation, Queensboro
Hill Community Church, Thorne Foundation, Valley Charitable
Trust as well the Historic House Trust and many individual
donors. We are deeply appreciative of your support
for Bowne House and its mission.
If you are a current or Life Member, please review
the enclosed forms and sign and return the ballot.
If you would like to make a donation to our operations
and educational funds, or to our restoration or endowment
funds, we would be very pleased. 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 III
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Letter 2012 >>
Letter 2011 >>