Flushing Town Hall eyes leftover city grant funds

Flushing Town Hall eyes leftover city grant funds
Astoria Pool diving well.
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Steve Mosco

Landmarked sites in Queens missed out on a large chunk of funding after a preservation contest did not go the borough’s way, but there is still more money to be had.

The committee for the Partners in Preservation, a citywide contest aimed at disseminating $3 million of financial support to protect significant sites, will award two sites in Brooklyn and two in the Bronx after an online vote.

The four sites were chosen out of 40 historic places across the city.

Five Queens sites were in the running for the funds, but did not garner enough votes. But all hope is not lost as the Queens sites — the Louis Armstrong House Museum, the Queens County Farm Museum, the Flushing Town Hall building, Astoria Park’s Pool and the Rocket Thrower sculpture in Flushing Meadows Corona Park — still have a chance at funding.

After giving funds to the winners, the contest committee intends to take a look at the remaining sites and announce grants from the remaining $2.1 million next month, depending on voting results and project needs.

Michael Cogswell, director of the Louis Armstrong House Museum, already knows exactly where those funds will go if his museum is lucky enough to receive the grant.

“There is a beautiful Japanese-style garden attached to the house and there has been very little work done on it since Mr. Armstrong installed it in the 1970s,” said Cogswell. “It is showing its age and we would use the funds to restore it.”

The Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, a National Historic Landmark and a city landmark, sits virtually unchanged since Armstrong and his wife Lucille called it home. The couple purchased the house, at 34-56 107th St., in 1943 and lived in it for their entire lives. Armstrong died in 1971; his wife in 1983.

“When you’re in the house, you get the sensation that Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong just stepped out for a minute and they’ll be right back,” said Cogswell. “The house is our main program, but we also have the world’s largest archive for a single jazz musician.

Cogswell said the Armstrong House feels privileged to be one of the 40 city sites considered for the funding, as that number was whittled down from close to 400. He also said the museum led all other Queens sites in votes.

He said he hopes the museum will win the remaining funds, but he also believes every historic site should be kept and protected in order to preserve cultural and historical significance.

“Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever,” he said, adding that landmarks can be an incredible source of revenue for the city. “Once a site is destroyed or falls into disrepair, you can never get it back again.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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