Protestant Reformed Dutch Church of Flushing

National Register of Historic Places listings in Queens, New York Old Quaker Meeting House (Queens) New York City

Reformed Dutch Church of Flushing
Reformed Dutch Church of Flushing (Bowne Street Community Church) 20190410 120717 2.jpg
Protestant Reformed Dutch Church of Flushing (Bowne Street Community Church)
General information
Architectural styleRomanesque Revival style
Location143-11 Roosevelt Avenue (38-01 Bowne Street), Flushing, Queens in New York, New York
Coordinates40°45′42.1″N 73°49′26.7″W / 40.761694°N 73.824083°W / 40.761694; -73.824083Coordinates: 40°45′42.1″N 73°49′26.7″W / 40.761694°N 73.824083°W / 40.761694; -73.824083
Completed1892
Governing bodyPrivate
Design and construction
ArchitectGeorge E. Potter
DesignatedDecember 13, 2016
Reference no.2137

The Protestant Reformed Dutch Church of Flushing (Bowne Street Community Church) is a historic house of worship located at Roosevelt Avenue and Bowne Street near the center of Flushing, Queens, New York City Built in the Romanesque Revival style, it is notable for a tall corner bell tower, extensive use of decorative brickwork, and its opalescent glass windows.[1] The denomination has roots in the founding of New Netherland and many other Reformed congregations were established during the 19th century in the former Dutch settlements along the Hudson River.

History

Protestant Reformed Dutch Church of Flushing (Bowne Street Community Church)

Seven churchmen, four members from other nearby Reformed Dutch Churches and three Presbyterians organized the Flushing congregation and On May 20, 1842, formed the Flushing Reformed Dutch Church.

Until then parishioners either attended at the churches at Jamaica or Newtown, or with the Presbyterians worshipping at Saint George's. The church was formally incorporated the following year in 1843 as the “Protestant Reformed Dutch Church of Flushing.” The congregation erected a church in the downtown area at the corner of Prince and Washington (now 37th Avenue) streets. The cornerstone and foundation stones were quarried from Blackwell's (Roosevelt) Island for the first church building and it was laid in August 1843. Later some of those same stones were salvaged to build a fireplace in the current church building. By the 1870s, the Reformed Dutch Church had increased in membership and plans were made to move farther away from the overpopulated center of town. In 1873 a large undeveloped lot (approx 200 sq ft (19 m2)) was acquired from local landowner Mary B. Parsons.[2]

Located at the northeast corner of Bowne and Amity streets (now Roosevelt Avenue), the lot was noted at the time as “perhaps the best site in Flushing for a church.”[3] Murray Hill had many single family homes, With the Prince and Parsons Nurseries, Quaker Meeting House and Bowne house being the most noted, farther east was still open land.[4] In 1877, a parsonage was built on the southeastern portion of the lot, but it would be another 20 years before funds were secured for construction of the church itself. Reverend James Demarest (1832–1913), a distinguished cleric within the Reformed Church of America Synod of New York, arrived in December 1890 to take the post as pastor and served until 1897. The changes came after he left, in 1899 the parsonage was sold, there were debts due which occurred during the construction of the church itself. In 1907 a new parsonage was added to the church holdings at 37-16 Parsons Boulevard.

The church building

The church features a formidable corner bell tower which is its most prominent attribute. The builder, Edward Richardson, laid the cornerstone on October 10, 1891. Inside it features arched openings, detailed brick and stonework, and stained-glass produced at the glassworks of the Tiffany Glass Company of New York by designer Agnes Fairchild Northrop (1857–1953), a noted congregant renowned for her skill with opalescent glass.[5][6] The bell installed was cast at the Meneely Bell Foundry of Troy, New York. The first recorded meetings held there were Sunday Services in May 1892, the church was formally dedicated six months later on November 6, 1892.[7] It seated approx 700 and was taller and larger than the building it replaced.[8][9] The Skinner Organ Company of Boston supplied Opus 813 organ, a revision with 3 manuals, 34 stops and 46 ranks was installed in 1929 and revised and enlarged from 1977-1984. The renovation was done by Peter Batchelder of NYC. From 1984-1988 the organ renovation was continued under John Wessel, who modified the console of the pipe organ. The 1929 cost was $22,800. The previous organ (c.1892) was from Reuben Midmer & Sons of Brooklyn. The original church on Washington Street had a George Jardine & Son of NYC supplied organ.[10]

The Reformed Church of Flushing is a congregation in the Queens classis of the New York regional synod of the Reformed Church in America (RCA). Founded in 1628, the Reformed Church of America is the oldest Protestant Christian denomination in the United States.

The congregation

There was a body within the original church that was pulled in a different path, which led in 1851 to them withdrawing membership and joining with others in the community to form the First Congregational Church of Flushing. That church stood across the street on Amity (Roosevelt) Ave until 1970, when it was destroyed by fire. As the needs of the church and community changed the church body grew, an organ was installed in 1859, structural improvements were made, and the preaching shifted from Dutch to English. The 20th century saw the greater Flushing community have an influx of immigrants from Central America, China and Korea, today Bowne st. reflects the shift with neighborhood storefronts displaying signs in both Chinese and Korean Hanzi and Spanish. One hundred and twenty-three years after they split, the Reformed Church of Flushing formally re-joined with the First Congregational Church of Flushing, merging in 1974. This time it was to recognize that Flushing had changed markedly from the congregants of the '30s thru the '50s, which were drawn from a predominantly white Anglo-Saxon Protestant community; which changed in the 60's and 70's when the neighborhood had a large influx from Asia, making Flushing home to the largest community of ethnic Chinese and Korean in the United States.[11] First Congregational, which is governed by the United Church of Christ agreed to the merger in 1970. The name was changed to the Bowne Street Community Church. The building became associated with the Reformed Church in America, the United Church of Christ, and later in 1988 with the Taiwanese Zion Christian Church. Additionally, an independent Korean congregation, the New York Yeram Church, which is not affiliated with any particular denomination, has its main offices at the Church and also holds services there.

Over three centuries ago, to recover their right to worship, Flushing citizens fought back against over-reaching local governance by formally petitioning for religious freedom denied by Gov. Peter Stuyvesant thru the Flushing Remonstrance of 1657. Today, Flushing is home to a multi-denominational church continuing the same traditions of faith and tolerance espoused by the Society of Friends, thereby reflecting the ethnic, cultural and religious diversity of the blended Flushing community.

The Bell tower was made a NYC landmark in 2017.

Present day

Today, The Reformed Church of Flushing still serves its original purpose, with meetings for worship taking place every Sunday.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Protestant Reformed Dutch Church of Flushing" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. December 13, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2019.<
  2. ^ New York City Office of Register, Deeds, Liber 421, page 268, dated September 24, 1873. A notation on the 1873 map (Beers, Comstock & Co.) of Flushing reads: “Miss M. B. Parsons ‘The Old Bowne House’ the Oldest House in Flushing, Built in 1661.”
  3. ^ Brooklyn Eagle, August 2, 1891.
  4. ^ https://www.bklyn-geanology-info.stevemorse.org/Queens/history/flushing.html
  5. ^ Flushing Journal, August 13, 1892.
  6. ^ Martin Eidelberg, Nina Gray, and Margaret K. Hofer, A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls (New York: New York Historical Society, 2007), 184
  7. ^ “To Open the Church: The New Reformed Edifice Will be Dedicated Sunday,” The Flushing Journal, October 29, 1892
  8. ^ Historic Sketch of the Reformed Church of Flushing, Long Island, 1882, 13.
  9. ^ “Flushing’s Old Church,” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 2, 1891, 14.
  10. ^ https://www.nycago.org/Organs/Qns/html/BowneStComm.html
  11. ^ https://www.nycago.org/Organs/Qns/html/FirstCongFlushing.html