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By Madina Toure

The long-awaited visitor’s center for the historic Bowne House in Flushing is currently in its design phase, according to the city Department of Parks and Recreation.

The 1,250-square-foot center, which will be on the southeast corner of the property and face the 17th century house, located at 37-01 Bowne St., will consist of a gallery and education space, accessible restrooms and an office for the administration of the property.

The center’s location on the southeast corner is intended to limit views of the center from Bowne Street and allow for views of the house from inside the new gallery space.

The Parks Department said it anticipates having a final design for the center by early fall.

The department initially planned to break ground on the center this spring but decided to hire specialized consultants given that the project is taking place on a historically sensitive site, a Parks spokeswoman said.

“It was deemed necessary to work with specialized consultants to evaluate the archaeological impact of the project and sensitively design the foundation and construction methods to not disturb the adjacent historic house,” the spokeswoman said.

The Parks Department completed renovations to the exterior of the house in the winter. The renovations included window restoration and a new cedar shingle roof, as well as substantial repair to and replacement of wood structural framing on the kitchen wing of the house.

In addition, the house’s wood exterior siding was replaced and it was repainted in a historically appropriate color determined from paint analysis.

The city Department of Design and Construction will lead work on the inside of the house.

Rosemary Vietor, vice president of the Bowne House Historical Society, which operates the house, said that the interior work would focus on the usage of the rooms, furnishings in the rooms and different lighting options. She also said repairs need to be made to the plaster, which is damaged, and that flooring in the kitchen area that was taken off needs to reinstalled.

“We’ll be working with consultants on things like lighting, updating it,” Vietor said. “When you’re working with a historic structure of this sort, often less is more.”

Vietor said that at some point, the Parks Department plans to move a fence located to the north of the Bowne House. The fence abuts Weeping Beech Park. Liquor bottles are frequently thrown over the fence onto the Bowne House’s grounds, and the park itself is the site of drug dealing and smoking, according to Vietor.

“The activity in the park is such that it’s not the best way to preserve the house,” Vietor said. “There’s been theft. It’s a constant problem. [The] Parks Department’s aware of it, police are aware of it, [the] community board’s aware of it. It’s just a nuisance.”

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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