Tag Archives: Bowne House

House bill looks at Flushing’s connection to religious freedom


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

File Photo

There’s more than just tennis and the World’s Fair in Queens. U.S. Rep. Grace Meng wants to add the roots of American religious freedom to Queens’ list of accomplishments.

A bill, sponsored by Meng, would require the government to look into funding Flushing sites like the Bowne House and Quaker Meetinghouse, according to the Library of Congress. These sites are associated with the 1657 signing of the Flushing Remonstrance, the document recognized as the forerunner of religious freedom in America.

Her bill won a majority in the House of Representatives on Monday night.

“The passage of this legislation brings us one step closer towards many more Americans learning about the important role that Queens played in the history of religious freedom in America,” Meng said.

If the bill passes the Senate and is signed by President Barack Obama, the Flushing sites would receive federal funding and, according to Meng, result in increased tourism.

“Not only would the two facilities become more well-known, but the sites would stand to receive many more visitors each year, and more tourism translates into more dollars for the Queens economy,” she said. “It’s time for more people across the country to know about the Flushing Remonstrance, and putting these sites on a national stage is a sure way to accomplish that.”

Rosemary Vietor, vice president of the Bowne House Historical Society, was “thrilled” to hear the news and said that the study would help lift the Flushing Remonstrance signing out of obscurity.

“The 1657 Remonstrance triggered events which established the principle of religious freedom in the colony of New Amsterdam,” she said, “which led to the guarantee of religious freedom in the First Amendment more than 100 years later.”

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Rep. Meng wants Flushing gems added to National Park Service


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Federal park officials are supporting a bill by Congressmember Grace Meng that would make historic Flushing sites part of the National Park Service, the legislator said.

The measure would require the Secretary of the Interior, who oversees federal parkland, to look into whether sites connected to the Flushing Remonstrance could be included in the national park system.

The Remonstrance, a historic 1657 petition, was signed by Peter Stuyvesant and 30 citizens to protest a policy that banned Quakers from practicing their religion in the colony of New Netherland.

Other sites mentioned in the bill are Flushing’s John Bowne House, where the Quakers held meetings, and the Old Quaker Meetinghouse, which was built in 1694 by Bowne and other Quakers.

“The story of the Flushing Remonstrance is not for New Yorkers alone,” Meng said. “It was an early struggle to establish the fundamental right to practice one’s religion.”

National Park Service Associate Director Victor Knox said the Department of the Interior supports the bill during a recent hearing held in Washington, according to Meng.

 

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Bowne House restoration breaks ground


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Parks Department

Officials broke ground last week on a $3.2 million project to preserve a historic Flushing gem.

A 17th century symbol of religious freedom, the Bowne House will get a new roof, gutters, pipes, wood wall shingles and steel columns, among other exterior restorations.

“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, who helped secure part of its funding.

Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said the site is a symbol of tolerance and diversity.

It was built in the 1660s by John Bowne and used for Quaker meetings when religious diversity was forbidden by law.

The city-landmarked house closed for restoration this spring.

“The house is both historically and architecturally significant,” said Historic House Trust executive director Franklin Vagnone, “and this restoration will ensure it is preserved for the thousands of visitors and school children who will visit the house each year.”

Renovations are expected to be complete by the end of the year, a Parks spokesperson said.

However, officials are yet to determine the time frame for interior construction including strengthening the first-floor framing.

 

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