Landmark News October 2020

              Landmark News- October 2020

Hello once again from the Cultural Center and Museum at the Poppenhusen Institute . Although recent times have been challenging- things are finally opening up around the city , including here at Poppenhusen Institute.

What is still going on?

The  Virtual Piano Lessons for Children continues. 

If you are interested in having your child participate in the virtual lessons, which are $150.00 for ten half -hour private session taught  contact us at [email protected]. The lessons are taught by a highly qualified instructor from the Aaron Copeland School of Music at Queens College. 

When the Piano Lessons return to in-person at the Institute the children will find two beautiful, and fine-tuned pianos recently donated to the  Institute by patron, Hannah Wang


 We Recently Resumed In-Person Programs in our Historic Garden 

– Sunday September 6th –  9/11 Remembrance Concert with the angelic voice of Mary Courtney along with Zachary Mandernach  . This was a quiet and inspirational event.  Pastor Linda Gold of the First Reformed Church and Father John, the new Pastor at St. Fidelis RC church offered up prayers and words of hope.  (Father John is new to the church and community and we warmly welcome him to the neighborhood. He replaced Monsignor Heron who recently retired. We hope this next chapter of his life is a rewarding one)

– Saturday, September 12th – “Twin Gold” performance– we were filled to the permitted capacity on that day . It was extremely satisfying to see the bright smiles on the faces of our guests. For some, that was their first outing since Covid-19 hit and they commented how wonderful it was . 

Family Painting Afternoons– Saturdays 1:00-3:00 PM- Instructor Linda Rufo- Two sessions have been held so far.  The next two sessions- Oct 24 and Nov 7. $5.00 per participant. Once the weather turns cold, we will determine if it is safe to move the program inside.

Scheduling Small Group Private Tours-  If you have never participated in a guided tour of this historic building, home of the First Free Kindergarten in the US,  you can do that now. That includes a stop in the old village jail cells. Small private groups can be scheduled by contacting us at either our email address or by phone. For groups with children ,a visit to the newly upgraded and expanded Native American exhibit is a must see. 

Suggested Donation- $5.00


Looking Ahead:-  

Looking for Something Safe to do with your children for Halloween-  Reserve your spots early for our October 31st event since space is  limited. . 

Two Sessions will be held during the day  10:30-12 Noon and 12:30- 2:00 PM

Each session will include stations for Pumpkin Painting, Photos in the Old Village  Jail Cells, An educational Table from Alley Pond Environmental Center, and a Cido the Clown Performance. (A maximum of 40 people, which includes both children and adults , will be permitted at each session for proper social distancing to be maintained)                            Fee-  Soon to be announced

For that same evening we are trying to arrange outdoor family -friendly movies in the garden. 

                                                           Stay-tuned .


Sat, November 14 1:00 PM- For the safety of our veterans, instead of an on-site program the Institute will once again rent a vintage trolley to transport musicians throughout the community. They will perform patriotic music in remembrance of our veterans.

Additional information will be distributed about the definition and history of Veterans Day to educate the public on this incredibly significant holiday. Additionally, information will be distributed, as well as posted on Poppenhusen’s website, about those who served and died from College Point in the Korean War, since 2020 is the 70th Anniversary of the war.

If you are aware of a veteran who would appreciate us pausing in front of their home while the musicians play a few patriotic songs- please let us know.

Another virtual Tour of the Tenement Museum-

Saturday, November 14, 1:30-2:30- a virtual visit with the Moore family- and Irish American family in the 1860’s- exploring work, belonging and identity in an ever-changing city.

Registration is required. Space is limited so register early. You will be sent a link two days prior to this event.

                                                         Historic News

You are likely already aware that  Capital One Bank is closing its College Point branch , much to the dismay of those who bank there, most especially the seniors who walk to the bank. 

The first bank that operated at that location was the College Point Savings bank which originated at the Poppenhusen Institute. In fact, the Institute still possess the bank’s hours of operation sign that once was mounted on the outside of the building. Those hours included both evening and Saturday hours which gave those who worked long hours in the factories of the village the opportunity to do their banking business. 

The funds of the bank were kept in the village vault which  can be viewed during the special tours to the secret places of the Institute that we conduct.

  A framed portrait of the second president of the bank ,which was done over a hundred years ago ,will soon be displayed in the newly restored gallery space across from the Institute’s office which was the location of the bank.


Another issue concerning the closing of the bank is the question of what will happen to the old College Point Volunteer Fire Dept. bell that has been displayed there for many decades. . The bank had offered the bell to both the NYC Fire Dept. Museum and the Institute. However,  representatives of the bank have decided to donate the bell to the NYC Fire Dept. Museum. That decision has been strongly opposed by the community as well as historian, James E. Haas. The actual  ownership of the bell is also in question – we have reason to believe that the bell had been a loan from the College Point Little League and never a donation. While this issue is being investigated further, we have requested that the bank not move ahead with their decision to donate the bell to the NYC Fire Dept. Museum. However,  whatever the ownership issue investigation reveals- our stance is that College Point history should remain in College Point.                                         


College Point Historic Trivia:

– The land on which the Poppenhusen Institute was built was originally owned by Joseph Witzel, a cobbler ( shoemaker.) Evidence of Witzel’s business was revealed during an archeological excavation that was done prior to the paving of the Poppenhusen parking lot. Shoestrings, identified by archeologist,  Eugene Boesch,  to be from the 19th century . 

 Witzel started a new business  a few blocks up the road on old 2nd Ave & 10th street (today 14th road & 119th street. .It operated as a restaurant, bar, dance pavilion , bowling alley and hotel. Of course, as most know, this was later to become Flessels, a favorite restaurant and “watering hole” of the community. Unfortunately, Flessels was demolished in 1999.

– Bowling was an extremely popular past time in the village , along with roller skating. According to Robert Hecht in his ” A History of College Point”, many of the larger College Point beer halls operated roller rinks “where a young swain could take his girl for an inexpensive afternoon of skating and hand-holding at the same time”

– Bowling balls were manufactured at Conrad Poppenhusen’s hard-rubber factory and were often given to the various alleys around the community for customers to try out. 

Our goal is that the Institute remains relevant to the people of the community. 

What programs and events would you like to see here in the future?

       Contact us at [email protected] or 718-358-0067 for more information                                  

Our programs and operations are funded in part with public finds from the NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs, Councilman Paul Vallone New York State Office of Parks , Recreation and Historic Preservation and One Point of Light Foundation

         Stay Safe- Healthy and Hope-Filled and Count Each and Every Day as Precious

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