Film Locations: Boardwalk Empire Inside the Poppenhusen Institute in College Point, Queens

The grand ballroom missing the grand chandelier which hung from the center

The grand ballroom of the Poppenhusen Institute, missing the grand chandelier which hung from the center

You may recognize the Poppenhusen Institute in College Point from scenes in the television series Boardwalk Empire, where Women’s Temperance League meeting were held in season one and where Margaret Schroeder gives a speech to the League of Women Voters.  A tour through the building today reveals the rich history of the building, which included many “firsts”–first kindergarten in the country, home of the First Reformed Church, location of the first Anchor Astoria Masons Lodge and the College Point Knights of Columbus.

Women's Temperance League-Boardwalk Empire-Poppenhuser Institute-College Point-Queens-NYC-Film Location

Boardwalk Empire-Poppenhuser Institute-League of Women Voters-Film Location-Queens-College Point

Conrad Poppenhusen made his fortune in America manufacturing combs made from hard rubber after he arrived from Hamburg, Germany in 1843. In 1854 he relocated his family and business to College Point, which was known then as a resort area. Poppenhusen set about about creating a “worker’s paradise” by building housing for his employees, paving roads and constructing a multi-purpose structure that would house most of their needs. The main building, known as the Poppenhusen Institute, included a bank, free kindergarten, sewing classes, German singing groups, English classes, a Justice of the Peace and even a sheriff and jail cells.

Source: The Poppenhusen Institute

The building became a New York City Landmark in 1970 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1977).  The Poppenhuser Institute continues to serve the community, offering a wide range of programs and rental space.

A NYC Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places

A NYC Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places

Along the right wall is a bust of Conrad Poppenhusen and opposite is a framed document of his endowment with a marble plaque with the names of the building’s architects – Mundell & Techkritz in 1868.

The main entrance of The Poppenhusen Institute today

The main entrance of The Poppenhusen Institute today

The Poppenhusen Institute cost Conrad Poppenhusen $100,000 to build in 1868 and he left an additional $100,000 as an endowment in the hope that this building would continue to act as a center for the College Point community.

Jail cells still show names and dates etched into the walls.

Jail cells still show names and dates etched into the walls

The sheriff’s office has a wonderful audio of what you will see in the jail cells just beyond. When you enter these tiny cells, you will notice the beveled floor from the incarcerated pacing back and forth, and the etching of names and dates can still faintly be seen on the walls.

There are many beautiful rooms on the upper floors that were used as classrooms, game rooms and meeting rooms of all kinds. These rooms are about to undergo a major renovation. It is said that the ghost of Poppenhusen still lives in the attic and so the guides took us one floor up where the floor was soft, the dust was thick and bare brick walls had faint markings of names and dates.

Checking for ghosts in the attic

Checking for ghosts in the attic

Firemans hat dating back to the 1880's

Firemans hat dating back to the 1880′s

Included in the renovation will be a move of the archives room to the lower level where the rifle range currently exists. Poking around in the archives room, we unearthed wonderful treasurers that will eventually go on permanent display.

Typewriter and case with handle

Typewriter and case with handle

The Freemason's meeting room used in the late 1800's

The Freemason’s meeting room used in the late 1800′s

A photo of the first free kindegarten at The Poppenhusen in the 1880's

A photo of the first free kindegarten at The Poppenhusen in the 1880′s. The tour guides tell us that descendants of this class still live in the area

Fire hose pulled by either horse or man

Fire hose pulled by either horse or man

In the background, you can see a model of a typical firehouse with the tall part of the building used to hang and dry the hoses. This particular firehouse is from 1857. One of the original firehose carriers is in the forefront and was pulled by either horse or man.

Sculpture done by the American artist Hermon MacNeil

Sculpture done by the American artist Hermon MacNeil

The sculpture “Coming of the White Man” by American artist Hermon MacNeil sits in the corner of the grand ballroom.  You might recognize his name as being the artist who sculpted George Washington as Commander-in-Chief on the north side of the Washington Square Park arch.

The Poppenhusen Institute as it looks today

The Poppenhusen Institute as it looks today

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