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Local talents fill a local treasure!

The Bayside Historical Society will host an opening reception for its Winter Art Show at the group’s headquarters – aka “The Castle” – on Sunday, Jan. 13, at 2 p.m. The event will include a gallery talk and the opportunity to meet some of the artists.

Then, the 18th annual exhibition – which consists of representational and abstract paintings, drawings, mixed media pieces and photographs by Queens residents – will be on display there until Sunday, Jan. 27.

This exposition is an example of “art within art within art” as the venue (below) is a fascinating-but-unsung Queens structure. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, the Castle is a two-story, rectangular-frame mansion with a central tower pavilion and clapboard windows. It was built in a late Gothic Revival architectural style during the 1870s, and functioned as a clubhouse/mess hall for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officers.

According to lore, Robert E. Lee helped design the edifice while working as a military engineer before the Civil War. Lee, a Virginia native, went on to become the general of the Confederate army, but the West Point graduate spent many years working on U.S. Army forts in the north beforehand.

Plus, the Castle is located in Fort Totten Park, which was an active military base from 1857 until 1995 and the home to four major U.S. Army hospitals. Currently, the NYC Fire, Police, and Parks Departments occupy large swaths of the property, which features an outdoor public swimming pool, a sports complex with soccer and baseball fields, children’s playgrounds, and a shoreline. Plus, the U.S. Army Reserve’s 533rd Brigade and 77th Sustainment Brigade are still located on the campus.

Gallery hours are Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 with proceeds supporting the Bayside Historical Society. The show will come down on Jan. 27 at 3 p.m.

The Castle’s address is 208 Totten Ave. Patrons can leave their cars in Little Bay Park near Fort Totten Park’s entrance at Bell Boulevard and 212th Street and take a bus to the Castle.

Images: Bayside Historical Society/Christina Buffamonte Gerbino

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