Tag Archives: house

Local pol fights to gain national recognition of Flushing’s ties to religious freedom


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

The right to religious freedom in America has its roots in Flushing, and now federal lawmakers want to preserve local buildings, including the John Bowne House, where that freedom was first established.

Congress passed a bill that would require the federal government to maintain sites like the John Bowne House in Flushing that are associated with the 1657 signing of the Flushing Remonstrance, the document recognized as the forerunner of religious freedom in America. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Grace Meng, of Queens, in the House, where it passed in September.

“The 1657 Remonstrance triggered events which established the principle of religious freedom in the colony of New Amsterdam,” said Rosemary Vietor, vice president of the Bowne House Historical Society, “which led to the guarantee of religious freedom in the First Amendment more than 100 years later.”

The bill passed the Senate on Saturday and has been sent to President Obama for his  signature. If the bill is enacted, the National Park Services would examine whether the properties — John Bowne House and the Quaker Meeting House — meet the agency’s standards of being included in the national park system. The study could lead to the locations either becoming a National Historic Park or a National Historic Site or the creation of a partnership to support the facilities.

According to Meng’s office, the bill is likely to be signed by the president soon, helping move a little-known piece of American history out of obscurity.

“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,” Meng 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.”

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Family gets house in Jamaica thanks to Habitat for Humanity


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Maggie Hayes

Dawnette Dixon finally has her own home and even a backyard, fixed up by none other than a former president.

Habitat for Humanity acquired five New York City Housing Authority (NCYHA) homes in the borough that were abandoned, boarded up and a “blight” in the community. One of those homes was on 112th Road in Jamaica, which was vacant for roughly two decades. It is also the home Dixon, her son and daughter will be moving into early next year.

“We said to the city, we’ll turn [the homes] around,” said Neil Hetherington, CEO of Habitat for Humanity NYC.

Hetherington and the Habitat team hosted the 30th Annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project to build and repair homes citywide. President Carter, 89, and his wife have been working with the group for almost 30 years, and the Jamaica home was part of a country-wide tour fixing houses.

Carter worked the power tools and his wife moved slabs of wood, all part of constructing a new deck for the Dixons. Hundreds of volunteers and the Dixons themselves worked on the new house. Construction is estimated to be complete in six to eight weeks.

As well as cleaning up the once-vacant home, Habitat for Humanity makes upkeep for the home affordable for people like Dixon, 53, who works for the Department of Health. They receive government grants and state mortgages which can make living affordable in the long haul.

“Now they have the pride and dignity associated with not only building their home, but paying for their home,” Hetherington said. “It’s helping in a dignified way.”

Dixon, who lived in Brooklyn for most of her life, “can’t explain how excited” she is. She is moving to the home from a cramped apartment in Prospect Park.

“This is a change of environment, a change of scenery and a new life,” she said. “Even if I don’t have anything in the house, as long as I’m living there, I’m happy.”

 

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