Our elected officials have proposed a Challenge Grant. They have pledged to fund, with the agreement of the city, the cost of our new Visitors Center provided that Bowne House can raise $200,000 as an endowment. The Endowment Fund will be a permanent fund to help meet the ongoing operating expenses of the museum.
The Bowne House Historical Society was established in 1947 by a group of local residents of Flushing. They raised money to purchase Bowne House with the purpose of operating it as a museum. Our charter describes the house as “a historical edifice of national interest intimately associated with events of profound significance in the establishment in this country of the fundamental principles of freedom of conscience and religious liberty.” We owe a great debt to those local residents who had the foresight to protect and preserve the house for future generations.
The Society operated the museum without an endowment and for many years the museum was staffed entirely by volunteers. Expenses were met through admission fees and donations. Many small museums operated successfully with this arrangement. Now, sixty years later, cultural institutions like ours face a different environment. It is no longer possible to operate without professional staff and an endowment to support the operations of the institution.
It is time for Bowne House to establish an endowment fund. We have met the challenge to raise funds for our restoration of the museum; we are now prepared to meet the challenge of raising an endowment. We anticipate that this fund will grow over time so that we can provide Bowne House with a secure source of income in order that future generations can continue to enjoy and cherish our museum.