Bonus #1: Old Quaker Meeting House (1694)
The Old Quaker Meeting House along Northern Boulevard in Flushing, Queens is the oldest religious structure in New York City. The oldest portion of the building (the easternmost third) was built by John Bowne, an influential leader of the Society of Friends in 1694-95. The small wooden frame structure, with exposed 40-foot beams of white oak and a hipped roof, is elegant in its simplicity. The meeting house has served the Quaker community continuously for over 300 years; the only exception was the Revolutionary War. From 1776 to 1783, the British army used the building first as a prison, and then later as a hospital and a storehouse for hay. Many of the original hand-wrought iron door hinges, latches, and locks are still in use.
John Bowne, and the Society of Friends as a whole, played an important role in the fights for religious freedom and abolition. In 1657, the Quakers of Long Island pushed back against Peter Stuyvesant, who had forbidden Quaker worship, by signing the “Flushing Remonstrance” in a demand for religious freedom. At that time, the meetings were held in John Bowne’s own house. The women continued to meet in Bowne’s house until the meeting house was expanded to its present size in 1716-1719.