4. Flushing Town Hall
The Romanesque Revival style building located at 137-35 Northern Boulevard in downtown Flushing has played an integral part in Queen’s military and artistic history. After its completion in 1862 until late into the 19th century the building served as the city’s town hall. During the Civil War soldiers from all over Long Island were sworn in to the Union Army in the assembly hall. Later, the building became an entertainment venue for traveling theatrical productions and light opera. The illustrious P.T. Barnum even worked there booking acts. After this brief stint in show business, the town hall building resumed its civil service as a courthouse, jail and bank. Occasionally community dances and meetings were held in the assembly hall.
Despite protection by the Landmarks Commission granted in 1967 and a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, the structure experienced a long period of neglect from the 1960s through the 1980s. In 1990, Queens Borough President Claire Shulman decided the community should reclaim the building and chose the non-profit organization Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts to maintain it. The mission of the FCCA is to “present multidisciplinary global arts that engage and educate the global communities of Queens, New York and New York City, New York, in order to foster mutual appreciation.”
Once the FCCA took over, work began on the nine year, $8 million restoration project that would convert the town hall into a community center for the visual and performing arts. In 1993 galleries and performance spaces were opened to the public and the 308 seat Great Hall Theater was opened in 1999. The center also has a classroom, rehearsal space, and a garden that can hold 250 people for outdoor events. The FCCA hopes to inspire and connect the diverse community of Queens through “jazz, classical and world music, theater, dance and spoken word, family and education programs, senior programs, exhibitions and free community events.”