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President's Letter 2016

June 10, 2016

Dear Members and Friends of Bowne House:
On Friday, June 10 at 6 PM the members of the Bowne House Historical Society will hold their 2016 Annual Meeting. We will meet at the museum, 37-01 Bowne Street and hope you will join us there.

Last year we completed Phase I, the Structural Stabilization and Exterior Restoration of the 17th century Bowne House. Since then, we have been actively planning and preparing for restoration of the interior of the house. We are working with the New York City Department of Design and Construction (NYC DDC) Preservation Unit, who will oversee and implement this work with us. This project involves analysis of historic interior finishes such as plaster and paint, and restoration of these materials and character defining features and fixtures. The work will be guided in part by the Historic Structures Report (HSR) for the house and anew interpretive and furnishings plans, developed by Donald Friary.

The Society, with supervision by our resident manager Anne Perl de Pal, has replanted the North lawn, redeveloped a historic herb garden and planted new shrubs including boxwood, lilac, acuba and camellia. Our gardens are starting to “green up” after an erratic season.

Inside activities include research and preservation of our archival materials, a project underway with the assistance of a grant from New York Preservation Archives Project (NYPAP). Archivists Pam Kerns and Charlotte Jackson are helping with this project. Our volunteer, Ellen Spindler, has been refining our collections database and researching information needed for the interpretation and furnishings plans.

With the completion of Phase I and the reopening of the museum to the public, we have been delighted to experience an influx of visitors and increased interest in the museum. We now have a Director of Education, Elizabeth Martin, Ph. D., and docents as needed for larger groups. We have enhanced our educational programming, incorporating recent discoveries such as archeological artifacts, and have expanded our programs for children. We now offer four specialized tours, depending on the interests of the audience: early history, archaeology, horticulture, and architecture.

Special programs include some family friendly activities such as a Winter Festival/Lunar New Year, a Valentine’s party, a Spring Festival, the Summer Kitchen Garden, and the Autumn Harvest Festival. We had two well attended workshops and two off site exhibits.

Also on our calendar of activities are the following:

  • Inside/Outside, held in conjunction with St. John’s University, in observation of
    Preservation Week, including a book signing by an author.

  • Participation in New York Landmarks Conservancy’s Sacred Sites Weekend.

  • One June 18, in observation of New York State’s Path Through History Weekend, a special program: Quakers, Queens, and the American Revolution.

  • Three Hundred Years in Four Blocks: Archaeology, Horticulture, Invention and
    Freedom. The Flushing Historic House Tour includes Bowne House, Kingsland, Lewis Latimer House, and The Old Quaker Meeting House.

We have also been participating in the creation of a new One Page Tour Guide for Flushing. This guide, targeted to travel professionals and tour groups, will feature local attractions, cultural institutions, and restaurants and will include transportation information and details on each attraction. Queens is being recognized as a desirable destination for out of town visitors, including international visitors.

Bowne House is also an active member of New York’s Landmarks50 Alliance, a group of museums and cultural institutions organized to promote the city’s history and promote the 50th anniversary of the passage of New York’s Landmark Preservation Law. The two year celebration included meetings, special events such as concerts, a television program focusing on landmarking history, lectures and other activities designed to bring attention to our city’s built heritage and the need to preserve it.

In observance of this 50th anniversary, and in honor of author and preservationist Anthony C. Wood, we held our annual cocktail reception on March 16th. Mr. Wood, author of Preserving New York; Winning the Right to Protect a City’s Landmarks was the recipient of our Historic Preservation Award.

We have many people to thank this year. Once again, we are grateful to Councilman Peter Koo, who has supported our educational outreach through our horticulture programs in addition to aiding our restoration through generous capital allocations.

We are grateful to our many members and friends who have given so generously to both restore the museum and to support our operations. We could not have managed this project without the support and encouragement of our members and friends.

Among the organizations we would like to acknowledge for their assistance are: The Colonial Lords of Manors in America, The Gerson Family Foundation, the Octagon Foundation, The Flushing Cemetery Association, Queensboro Hill Community Church, Parsons Family Trust, Pomeroy Foundation, Thorne Foundation and Valley Foundation.

We would like to extend our special thanks to Bolton St. John, to our pro-bono legal team at Paul, Weiss, and to the New York Botanical Garden, who have provided advice and guidance.


Morris Hylton III


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