5. The Flushing Town Hall Only Served as a Town Hall for 38 Years
“Many people still think that we’re the town hall,” says Ellen Kodadek, Executive and Artistic Director at Flushing Town Hall, “so people come in all the time and want a marriage certificate, or a work permit. It happens constantly and we feel a little badly that we have to turn them away.” However, the Flushing Town Hall only served as a town hall for 38 years, from 1862 to 1898, when the consolidation of New York City happened. The City took over the building from the former town of Flushing and turned it into a court house.
The building was also used as a police precinct for the 1964/65 World’s Fair, by the Department of Public Welfare, the Highway Bureau, the Big Sisters of Queens, the Flushing Historical Society, and the Girl Scouts. It has also served as a mustering hall during the Civil War, a ballroom, a bank, a library, a dinner theater, a jazz club, and its current use as an arts and cultural center.
Flushing Town Hall was used as a courthouse until 1960. The Landmarks Preservation Commission landmark designation in 1967 was an effort to save the building, and the National Park Service named the hall a historic site in 1972. From 1962 to 1976, the building remained vacant, apart from one year as a dinner theater. By 1989, the building had deteriorated significantly, with graffiti, a damaged facade, and broken and missing windows. In June of that year, the Civil Court evicted the sub-tenant and a year later, the Flushing Council on Culture & the Arts was awarded stewardship of the building to renew it and turn it into a multi-cultural arts center. In the 1990s, the Town Hall was stabilized, revitalized and restored thanks to local and state funds.