BY JAMES FARRELL
Several Queens churches will open their doors to history buffs on May 20 and 21 as part of the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s seventh annual Sacred Sites Open House Weekend.
Throughout the weekend, religious institutions across the state will be open to the public, allowing interested New Yorkers to learn more about the sites’ faiths, styles and periods. Congregations from more than 60 sites in the five boroughs and 150 across the state will showcase the services they provide to the communities in which they are located by offering special tours, concerts, food fairs and more. This year’s theme is “Stained Glass: Windows on this World and the Next,” which will highlight the work of American stained glass masters such as John LaFarge, Henry Sharp and Louis Comfort Tiffany.
In Queens, the Landmarks Conservancy has partnered with the Queens Historical Society to present a free walking tour to highlight some key sacred sites in the borough. The tour will begin at 1 p.m. on May 21 at the Friends Meeting House, located at 137-16 Northern Blvd.—which is considered the oldest house of worship in New York State and the second oldest Quaker meeting house in the nation with an origin dating back to 1694. The tour will then go to St. George’s Episcopal Church, built in 1702, located at 135-32 38th Ave., and end at the Free Synagogue of Flushing, located at 136-23 Sanford Ave.—which is the oldest Reform Synagogue in Queens.
If time permits, the tour will also include a visit to the historic Bowne Street Community Church, which was originally built as a Dutch Reformed Church and is linked to Flushing’s history as a Dutch Colony in the 1600s.
Other Queens-based congregations participating in the Open House Weekend include the Church of the Resurrection in Kew Gardens, located at 85-09 118th St., which will open its doors on May 20 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and host pre-booked guided tours every hour on the hour between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on May 20. Additionally, the Rego Park Jewish Center, located at 97-30 Queens Blvd. in Rego Park, will be open on May 20 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.—guests are welcome to attend regular Shabbat services on May 20 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. And the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown, located at 54-05 Seabury St. in Elmhurst, will offer a tour on May 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Additionally, the Bowne House Museum, located at 37-01 Bowne St., will open its doors on May 20 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The museum was originally the house of worship for the Flushing’s Quakers between 1662 and 1692—which was before the Friend’s Meeting House was constructed. There will be two exhibits on display regarding the original site as well as a tour centered on Quaker John Bowne, whose fight for religious freedom shaped the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
“Don’t miss the wonderful opportunity the Conservancy’s Sacred Sites Open House presents to explore the art, architecture and history these religious institutions offer,” said Peg Breen, president of the Landmarks Conservancy. “It’s exciting to discover the riches in your own community.”
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @farrellj329.