The Bowne House in Flushing received a new state grant to
help its ongoing restoration project. Tribune Photos By Ira Cohen
By RICHARD FASANELLA
Tucked away between a Flushing playground
and tall apartment buildings, and surrounded by the bustle of busy Bowne Street and 37th
Avenue, stands a modest monument to American religious freedom The Bowne House.
With the help of a new state grant
announced last week this historical landmark may slowly regain some of the luster lost in
recent years. A request for a state grant enabling the Bowne House Historical Society to
continue the rehabilitation of the 17th century structure has been approved by Governor
George Pataki, according to Senator Frank Padavan.
The $175,474 grant issued under the
historic preservation portion of the 1996 Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act will help
the Bowne House continue its ongoing renovation project. Padavan was also successful in
securing an earlier grant for the Bowne House project. In 1998, he won approval of a
$100,000 grant to help launch the three-phase rehabilitation effort.
"We are delighted by this new
grant," said Evangeline Egglezos, executive director of the Bowne House Historical
Society. "The Bowne House is deeply grateful for the efforts of all those who helped
secure this vital funding."
Stabilization of the foundation and the
frame of the home built by John Bowne in 1661 is the first of three phases of
rehabilitation mapped out by the Bowne House Historical Society. According to Egglezos,
the grant money will go toward this phase of the restoration plan which is also the
"It is very encouraging to see the
Bowne House getting the recognition it deserves," Egglezos said. "By granting
this money, there is an implicit recognition its significance as an historic
The Bowne House was declared a city
landmark in 1966 by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
During an inspection of the house last
year, Bradley Cohen, project manager of the Empire State Development Corporation commented
that the house is "in remarkably good condition given its age."
However work began last year to repair the
houses structural components that have been
compromised by "age, rot,
unsympathetic alterations and termite infestation," according to a newsletter
published in 1999.
Currently the restoration firm of Crowley
& Prudon Architects is taking part in the extensive repairs needed to maintain the
structure. The area in most need of repair reportedly lies in the northeast corner of the
1680 addition and 1830 modification of the structure. The architectural preservation team
is reportedly expected to underpin the houses foundation provide site drainage,
repair the structural frame, eliminate the termite infestation and reinstall the exterior
Egglezos said the second phase of the
restoration plan is to treat the mechanical systems of the house including the heating,
air conditioning, plumbing and wiring. Once that portion of the plan is completed, the
focus of the project will switch to renovating the exterior and interior parts of the
Doug Bauer, president of the Bowne House
Board of Trustees, said that currently there is a plan to raise an additional $4 million
to help pay for the restoration. In order to gather such a large amount of money, Bauer
said that the board is seeking the help of a professional fundraising group.
"If we have all of the money soon, we
could probably complete the stabilization phase of the project in 18 to 24 months,"
During the 1660s the home was the
epicenter of the quest for religious freedom the first time it was attempted in any
political state. It was there that Bowne allowed area Quakers seeking refuge from Dutch
Governor Peter Stuyvesants restrictive religious edicts to worship.
The house which reflects the Dutch, English
and New England styles of architecture, was opened to the public as a museum on July 4,
1947. Currently the house offers a glimpse of colonial and early American life with its
extensive collection of furniture, textiles and paintings which were once owned by the
Stephen McGuire contributed to this
The History Of Queens
By JOSH KAUFMAN
When it comes to naming what will be
preserved for future generations in Queens, landlords and civic leaders go to the city
Landmarks Preservation Commission, but keeping track of who owns everything worthy of the
history books is a complicated list to find.
The landmarked 7 train continues to serve millions of
people of New York City residents.
To compile a complete list
of all the owners of Queens landmarks would take months of research in the
Commissions files, the Tribune was told, and that information just isnt
readily available. Neither did the city Buildings Department or the Department of Taxation
have a reference list on hand.
However, Councilman John Sabini, chair of
the councils landmarks committee, explained that most of the landmarks in Queens are
either city-owned or owned by foundations who raise funds to keep their history alive. As
for the Landmarks Preservation Commission, monitoring ownership is not part of their
The Landmarks Preservation Commission
(LPC), was created in 1965 by Mayor Robert Wagner and is staffed by 11 Commissioners and a
staff of nearly 50 making it one of the smallest City agencies. It is responsible
for the review and approval of sites to be designated as landmarks.
"It would take six months to gather
data on who owns all the [Queens] landmarks," said Terri Rosen Deutsch, chief of
staff of the LPC. "That information is not readily available here."
Instead, what the Commission does track is
the status of sites, approves changes to their landmark segments, and issue fines when
fines are called for.
The LPC regulates landmarks by approving
renovations, restorations, and other changes to the structure of the landmark.
"Once a place is landmarked, the owner
is on his own," said Stanley Cogan, Queens Borough Historian. "About 90-percent
of the time the sites are designated externally," he said. "Internal
designations are made in special cases. Landmarked churches are not altered
However, in 1998, Mayor Rudy Giuliani
signed the Landmarks Protection Bill, which was passed by the City Council. The bill
granted the LPC the ability to levy civil fines against violators of the Landmarks Law,
which requires any external work to be done on a landmark first be approved by the LPC,
according to officials.
There are four types of landmarks:
individual, interior, scenic, and historic district. Individual landmarks are places such
as Bowne House and Kingsland Homesteadthe home of the Queens Borough Historical
Society. Last June, Fire Engine Company 289 and Ladder Company 138 were designated in
Elmhurst as individual landmarks.
Interior landmarks apply to churches and
internal architecture that is deemed worth saving. St. Georges Episcopal Church and
the Old Parish House in Flushing was designated on Feb. 8.
Scenic landmarks include overlook points
and natural settings, while historic districts are whole areas such as the Hunters
Point and Jackson Heights Historic Districts.
The designation process to classify a
property as a landmark consists of many steps. First, the LPC must receive suggestions
from property owners, citizens, public officials, and community groups generating interest
in the preservation of a site. LPC officials are also capable of proposing buildings and
sites for potential designation, according to LPC documents.
Interested parties must then file a Request
for Evaluation (RFE) form, which will provide as much data on the site as possible, and
includes photographs, slides, and other technical data, added Cogan.
The information is then reviewed by members
of an internal RFE Committee, who decide if the site meets criteria for designation. If it
does, the Designation Committee, staffed by five Commissioners, votes on whether to pass
the property to the full Commission for review at a public hearing, said LPC officials.
The first public hearing "usually
consists of discussions and a slide show, and then a decision to either table the site for
a future meeting, or outright reject the site for consideration of landmark status,"
Public meetings are then held as necessary
to further discuss the site, and then the Commission votes at a final public meeting
whether or not to designate the property. Six votes are required to either approve or deny
designation. The LPC then files the designation report with the City Planning Commission
(CPC), City Council, and other city agencies. A Notice of Designation is sent to the
property owner and the City Register or the County Clerks Office, according to the LPC.
The CPC has 60 days to report to the City
Council, outlining the ways designation effects zoning and other city plans. Historic
District designations require the CPC to hold a public hearing.
Finally, the City Council is allowed 120
days from the time the LPC filed its designation report. A majority vote by the Council is
required to pass the motion, and the Mayor has five days to veto the vote. The City
Council then has 10 days to override the Mayors veto with a two-thirds vote.