Kingsland Homestead Built c. 1774 for Charles Doughty, Kingsland Homestead is a well-scaled and proportioned example of the indigenous Long Island half house form which flourished in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Threatened by demolition, the house was moved to its present site in 1968. It is now the headquarters of The Queens Historical Society and is open to the public as a museum and research center.
Bowne House The oldest house in Queens county, the original section was built in 1661 by John Bowne, a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers). Bowne's successful opposition to Governor Stuyvesant's religious intolerance restored freedom of religion to the colony of New Netherland. It is believed that the house served as a station on the Underground Railroad in the years before the Civil War.
Flushing Town Hall Built in 1862, Town Hall is a fine example of early Romanesque Revival, a style of architecture popular for public buildings of the period. For almost fifty years, this building was the focal point for the social, cultural, and political life of the village of Flushing. Among the outstanding Americans who have spoken here was the African-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who visited Flushing in 1865. Today, it is a cultural center operated by the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts.
Friends Meeting House Construction of the Friends Meeting House began in 1694. The membership grew so rapidly that in 1714 it was enlarged by an addition as large as the original structure. The exterior has remained unchanged since that date. Members of the Society, including Samuel Parsons and his sons Samuel and Robert, served as "conductors" on the Underground Railroad in the years before the Civil War.
Lewis H. Latimer House The House is a modest Queen Anne style, wood-frame suburban residence constructed between 1887 and 1889 by the Sexton Family. It was moved from Holly Avenue in Flushing to its present site in 1988. Lewis H. Latimer was the son of Virginia fugitive slaves. Self-educated, he became an expert draftsman and worked with three of the greatest scientific inventors in American history: Alexander Graham Bell, Hiram S. Maxim, and Thomas Alva Edison. He played a critical role in the development of the telephone; and as Edison's chief draftsman, he invented and patented the carbon filament, a significant improvement for the production of the incandescent bulb. Over the course of his career, Latimer supervised the installation of street lighting and the construction of electric plants in many American cities, London, and Montreal.
Weeping Beech Tree A shoot of the Weeping Beech Tree was acquired by Samuel Bowne Parsons while on a trip to Belgium in 1847. The first of its species in the United States, the tree was planted on its present site, a part of the original Parsons Nurseries owned by Samuel and his brother Robert Bowne Parsons. Also known for their humanitarian works, the brothers were active in the Underground Railroad. In 1997, after its 150th anniversary, the tree died but seven siblings live on.
George Fox Stone This stone marks the site where George Fox, founder of the Religious Society of Friends in England, preached in 1672 "unmolested by any Magistrate" (as decreed by the Flushing Charter of 1645). Because of the large number of people present, the sermon was given in John Bowne's garden, under two large oak trees. These trees were later named "The Fox Oaks." The stone marks the site of the trees.
Flushing High School Flushing High School is the oldest free public secondary school in New York City; its charter was received in 1875. The original school building was located on Sanford Avenue. During the period 1912 to 1915 the present building was erected. An east wing was added in 1954, and was dedicated in memory of former students who lost their lives in World War II.
Macedonia AME Church In 1811 the African Methodist Society, forerunner of the present Macedonia Church, was founded; it became the third religious organization in Flushing. In the same year, the members purchased a part of the Daniel Loweree farm on which a building would be erected for religious services. In 1837 the first church edifice was built on approximately the same location as that of the present church. In the years before the Civil War, members of the congregation and its pastor Edward Africanus were active in the early struggle for African-American civil rights. It is also believed that the church served as a station on the Underground Railroad.
State Armory On this site (in Michael Milner's home) the Flushing Remonstrance was signed December 27, 1657 to protest Governor Peter Stuyvesant's ban against Quakers and his restrictions on religious freedom. The freeholders of the town who dared to sign their names stated, "we are bounded by the law of God and man to doe good unto all men and evil to noe man." Their courageous action has been called the first declaration of religious tolerance by any group of ordinary citizens in American history.
World War I Memorial Erected in 1920 in memory of all the men of Flushing who lost their lives. Designed and sculpted by Hermonn Atkins MacNeil, a nationally famous sculptor and College Point resident.
Spanish-American War Memorial In 1950, the Spanish-American War Memorial Flagpole was erected by veterans of the 1898 War as a tribute to all their comrades.
RKO Keith's Theatre The theatre originally opened as the KeithAlbee Vaudeville Theatre on Christmas Day, 1928. Thomas Lamb was the architect, using the Mexican Baroque style. Against a blue evening sky, the effect of twinkling electric stars and projected drifting clouds evoked a romantic feeling of sitting in a Spanish garden. The entire building was once designated a city landmark. The ticket lobby and grand foyer, still landmarked, are intact and await restoration. Jack Benny, Bob Hope and other entertainers of the day played the Keith's.
Margaret I. Carman worked tirelessly for the preservation of Flushing’s Freedom Mile, devoting her retirement years to the preservation of the history of Flushing. President of the Bowne House Historical Society for many years, she was primarily responsible for having such historic structures as Bowne House, Flushing Town Hall, and the Friends Meeting House designated as landmarks.
In 1987 a committee of representatives from each of the historic sites on the Freedom Mile was formed under the auspices of the Queens Historical Society. It is still carrying on Margaret's work: the preservation, growth and development of the Freedom Mile. In 1998, as a result of a grant awarded to the Queens Historical Society by The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, a committee was formed to study the history of the "Underground Railroad" in the Flushing area. The research committee put together the “Freedom Mile Walking Tour of Historic Flushing”; more information is made available through the Queens Historical Society.
Illustrations: Elizabeth Catlett, Harriet, linoleum on paper, 1975.
© Elizabeth Catlett/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.
Content on the historical landmarks provided by Queens Historical Society.
Video Credits © Sixty-First Productions
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