August 2003 - Capital Project of the Month
QUEENS COUNTY FARM MUSEUM
Designer: William Gotthelf
Specifications: Ruby Wei
Environmental: Peter Williams
Mechanical & Environmental:John Demenagas
Structural: Reza Mashayekhi
Survey: Dominic Cusumano, Taik Singh
LOCATION: The Queens County Farm Museum is located in the Bellerose section of Queens at Little Neck Parkway between 73rd Road and 74th Avenue. The entire property is 47.65 acres. This project occurs only on the 5.8 acres immediately adjacent to the farmhouse, barn and outbuilding complex. It lies in Community Board 13 and Council District 23.
SURROUNDING LAND USE: The Queens County Farm Museum is in a residential area of low-rise apartments and single family homes. There is a public school on the northern boundary and Queens Children’s Hospital to the east.
SITE HISTORY: The Queens County Farm Museum is considered the only major intact remnant of three hundred years of Queens County agricultural history. The original hisoric photo of the Queens County Farm Museumproperty was purchased in 1697 by Elbert Adriance, whose family farmed it for five generations. Subsequent families owned and operated the farm until 1926, when it was purchased by New York State. The Creedmoor State Hospital used the farm from 1926 until 1960 to treat mental illness through farm labor. It remained in use as quarters for hospital grounds staff until 1973, when the State Department of Mental Hygiene declared the property excess and began the process of turning it over to New York City.
The Colonial Farmhouse Restoration Society of Bellerose was founded in 1975 to protect and restore the farm buildings. In 1976, the farmhouse and seven surrounding acres were given landmark status by the NYC Landmarks Commission. In 1979, they were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Title was given to New York City (Parks) in 1980, and the Colonial Farmhouse Society was given the responsibility of administering the property. Substantial changes have occurred between 1980 and the present, including reconstruction of the farmhouse, construction of a new barn/administration building on the site of a Creedmoor era barn, the demolition of some outbuildings and the reconstruction of others. The Historic House Trust was formed in 1989 to provide technical preservation services for Parks' historic properties, and QCFM was among the original group entrusted to HHT's care.
This project has seven separate components:
A: In order to provide irrigation to the farm’s three-acre orchard, a new well will be drilled in the approximate location an older well is documented to have existed west of the farmhouse. A water pumping windmill, similar in scale and design to one that existed on the farm from the 1890s until the 1920s, will be installed to pump the well water out of the ground. Where a water storage building once stood on this site, a newer barn and garage complex now stands. To store an adequate water supply for orchard irrigation, a 10,000 gallon tank will orchard imagebe installed underground and will be continually fed whenever there is enough wind to power the windmill. This reservoir of well water can be drawn upon whenever needed for orchard irrigation.
B: Orchard irrigation will contribute to the successful replanting of the orchard with heirloom apple varieties. Many of the farm’s orchard trees are in decline or have already succumbed to old age and disease. They have not been successfully replaced, primarily due to a lack of water. “Newtown Pippin,” “Esopus Spitzenburg” and “Jonathan” apple varieties are called for in this contract.
C: An existing duck facility is in a historically and operationally inappropriate location between the farmhouse and barn/garage complex. The present facility is also difficult to maintain and poorly suited for waterfowl. This facility will be removed, and a new waterfowl pool constructed in a better location. The new pool was designed for proper animal care and ease of maintenance in consultation with the Queens Zoo.
D: An existing dirt road, heavily used by the farm, will be paved with a resin stabilized aggregate material that has the color and appearance of a dirt road but is similar in strength to asphalt pavement. This will mitigate the farm’s ongoing maintenance problems with the dirt road without drastically changing the road’s appearance.
E: Lighting will be installed along the main farm lane and in an outdoor gathering space to enable visitors to walk safely between the farm’s various facilities during evening events. Light fixtures will be mounted on rustic cedar poles which will weather to an appearance image of main roadvery similar to the farm’s existing, untreated wood fencing.
F: Part of the existing asphalt farm lane will be regraded, and new storm drainage structures installed to correct stormwater drainage problems that are damaging two farm buildings. An existing gravel parking area will also be paved with asphalt. Much of the existing asphalt image of exisiting water fountainfarm lane is in poor condition and will be replaced.
An existing, non-accessible, nonfunctioning drinking fountain will be removed, and a new, accessible drinking fountain installed in a better location.