By Gina Martinez
After several setbacks the Bowne Street Community Church was officially landmarked by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Committee Dec. 13. The church was one of 27 sites in the city landmarked as part of the backlog initiative, including Loew’s 175th Street Theatre in Manhattan, St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn and Broughham College in Staten Island.
“I am thrilled that through this ambitious and unprecedented effort we have granted full landmark protection to 27 outstanding properties and cut through a 50-year backlog in a matter of 18 months,” Commission Chairwoman Meenakshi Srinivasan said. “We’re very proud that the designated properties are from all five boroughs and represent a diverse array of building typologies, including early residences, institutional buildings, churches, a theater— even an iconic sign. This is a great day for preservation in New York City”
Bowne Community Church, located on 143-11 Roosevelt Ave., formerly known as the Protestant Reformed Dutch Church of Flushing, opened in 1892. The church was built in a Romanesque Revival style and features stained glass windows designed by Tiffany Glass Company. The church merged with another congregation in 1970 and became known as Bowne Street Community Church. It began serving the Taiwanese immigrant community after the demographics of the Flushing population changed and currently holds multidenominational services in Korean, Spanish, Chinese and English.
The church had been added to the landmarks calendar in 2003, but it did not have its first hearing until October 2015. This was part of the initiative LPC adopted to address the backlog of buildings that were under consideration for designation, but were not designated or acted upon. Most on the list were calendared 20 or more years ago.
At the October hearing 13 people testified in support of designation with no one testifying against it. Another hearing had to be set because there was a mistake on the map presented at the hearing. A second hearing was held on Nov. 15, 2016 where elected officials like state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) as well as residents were pushing for designation. The actual church has been hesitant, however, fearing the financial burden of maintaining the building once it became a landmark.
“The New York Landmarks Conservancy appreciates that the commission listened to the public and gave each of the backlog buildings a hearing,” Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, said. “We’re glad that a significant number of these properties will be designated and protected for the future. After decades on the calendar for some of these sites, it was worth the wait.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart