Flushing’s Bowne House to get a make over
by Andrew Pavia
Jul 02, 2013 | 12529 views | 0 0 comments | 229 229 recommendations | email to a friend | print
John Liu
John Liu
Local elected officials broke ground on Wednesday, June 26 in Flushing to begin a $3.2 million restoration program at the Bowne House.

The mid 17th century Anglo-Dutch inspired building will undergo both interior and exterior renovations including a new roof, gutters and leader pipes for proper drainage for the building.

Wooden wall shingles and weatherboard cladding will be installed on the exterior of the building to prevent future damage. Restoration of the historic wood window sash, doors and associate trim will also be included in the project.

In the interior of the building, framing elements and the foundation are being redone to support the structure.

“Bowne House is a New York City treasure, and through this restoration, it is sure to be preserved for generations to come,” said Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski. “Bowne House is a symbol of tolerance and diversity.”

In 1649 English immigrant Jon Bowne built the house after landing in Flushing by way of Boston. Bowne was an advocate for religious freedom and was persecuted by Governor Peter Stuyvesant for his courageous actions.

He then used the home he built to hold indoor ‘Society of Friends’ meetings for the group. At the time, in the U.S., colony religious freedom was outlawed.

Following in his footsteps, Bowne’s ancestors became businessmen, educators and horticulturists. One, Walter Bowne, served as mayor of New York City from 1829 to 1833.

“The Bowne House helped to shape our history and now it is time for us to take care of its future for a new generation,” said Borough President Helen Marshall.

Along with Councilman Peter Coo, NYC Comptroller John Liu and former Assemblywoman Ellen Young, Marshall helped allocate funds toward the renovation. She said, “To me that is public money well spent.”

In 2009, the Bowne House Historical Society donated the house to New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, becoming the 23rd member of the Historic House Trust, a non-for-profit that works in tandem with the Parks department to provide support for houses of architectural and cultural significance.

“Historical House Trust has been eager to begin the restoration of Bowne House, which has been a pillar of social, cultural and political history of Queens, and New York City,” said Franklin Vagnone, the executive director of the Historical House Trust. “The house is both historically and architecturally significant and this restoration will ensure it is preserved for the thousands of visitors and school children who will visit the house each year.”

A visitor’s center is currently under design review and will be added next to the Bowne House if the proposal is approved. The house has been a museum since 1947.
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