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Daily Plant Masthead

Volume XXVIII, Number 5895
Tuesday, Jul 09, 2013

Major Restoration Of Bowne House Commences

Photo by Daniel Avila

On June 26, NYC Parks officials joined Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall, Historic House Trust of NYC Executive Director Franklin Vagnone, NYC Comptroller John Liu and Bowne House Historical Society Board Member Rosemary Vietor to break ground on a major restoration at the historic Bowne House in Flushing, Queens.

This $3.2 million project is managed by NYC Parks’ capital team and the Historic House Trust and was made possible through generous allocations from Borough President Marshall, the City Council, former NYS Assembly Members Barry Grodenchik and Ellen Young, and a grant from the NYS Bond Act.

The project includes restoration of exterior features including new roofing, gutters and leader pipes for proper drainage, wood wall shingle and weatherboard cladding, restoration of the historic wood window sash, doors and associate trim and shutters, and new concrete footings to support new steel columns. The first floor framing will be strengthened with additional wood joist and steel inserted into and around the existing frame.

The Bowne House is a fine example of mid-17th-century Anglo-Dutch architecture with an exceptional collection of furnishings, but its true magic is its story. The house was built by John Bowne, a prominent Quaker and advocate of religious freedom, who emigrated from England to Boston in 1649 and eventually settled in Flushing, Queens. The contributions of this family to New York City’s heritage began with the courageous actions of John Bowne (1627-1695), who used the house as the first indoor meeting place for the Society of Friends, at a time when religious diversity was forbidden by law.

The Bowne family prospered in America and became businessmen, educators, politicians, and horticulturists. Robert Bowne (1744-1818) founded Bowne & Co., a financial printing company that is still in existence today, and championed free education for all New Yorkers. Walter Bowne (1770-1846), founder of the Union Engine Company, served as mayor of New York City from 1829-1833. Samuel Parsons Jr. (1844 – 1923) was the head landscape architect for New York City and served as Superintendent of City Parks. During his career he partnered with Calvert Vaux to create Christopher Street Park, Abingdon Square, and the iconic Washington Memorial Arch in Washington Square Park.

In 2009, the Bowne House Historical Society donated the house to the City’s Parks Department and it became the 23rd member of the Historic House Trust. The three organizations are now partnering on a phased restoration of the house, construction of a visitor’s center, archeological investigation of the site, and redevelopment of the surrounding park to represent the rich horticultural history of Flushing.


“We can't all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb
and clap as they go by.”

Will Rogers
(1879 - 1935)

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