In 1987 a committee of representatives from
each of the historic sites on the Freedom Mile was formed under the
auspices of the Queens Historical Society.
It is still carrying on Margarets's work: the preservation, growth and
development of the Freedom Mile.
In 1998, as a result of a grant awarded to the Queens Historical Society
by The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, a committee
was formed to study the history of the "Underground Railroad" in the Flushing
area. This updated version of the brochure, incorporates the findings
of this research committee.
Each of the sites associated with the Underground Railroad is "marked
with this symbol of Harriet Tubman leading the slaves to freedom.*
*Illustration: Elizabeth Catlett, Harriet, linoleum on paper, 1975.
© Elizabeth Catlett/Licensed by VAGA, New York,
1. Weeping Beech Tree
A shoot of the Weeping Beech Tree was acquired
by Samuel Bowne Parsons while on a trip to
Belgium in 1847. The first of its species in the
United States, the tree was planted on its present
site, a part of the original Parsons Nurseries
owned by Samuel and his brother Robert Bowne
Parsons. Also known for their humanitarian
works, the brothers were active in the
Underground Railroad. In 1997, after its 150th
anniversary, the tree died but seven siblings live
New York Landmark:
built c. 1774 for Charles Doughty, is a well-scaled and proportioned example
of the indigenous Long Island half house form which flourished in the
late 18th and early 19th centuries. Threatened by demolition, the house
was moved to its present site in 1968. It is now the headquarters of The
Queens Historical Society.
New York City
National Register of Historic Places: 1972.
3. Bowne House
house in Queens county, the original section was built in 1661 by John
Bowne, a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers). Bowne's successful
opposition to Governor Stuyvesant's religious intolerance restored freedom
of religion to the colony of New Netherland. It is believed that the house
served as a station on the Underground Railroad in the years before the
New York City Landmark: 1966. National Register of Historic Places:
4. Margaret 1. Carman
Margaret I. Carman, educator and historian,
devoted her retirement years to the preservation
of the history of Flushing. President of the
Bowne House Historical Society for many
years, she was primarily responsible for having
such historic structures as Bowne House,
Flushing Town Hall and the Friends Meeting
House designated as landmarks.
5. George Fox Stone
This stone marks the site where George
Fox, founder of the Religious Society of
Friends in England, preached in 1672
"unmolested by any Magistrate" (as decreed
by the Flushing Charter of 1645). Because of
the large number of people present, the sermon was given in John Bowne's garden,
under two large oak trees. These trees were
later named "The Fox Oaks." The stone
marks the site of the trees.
The Site of Aspinwall House
John Aspinwall's house
was built in 1762. During the Revolutionary War, the house was commandeered by
British officers stationed in Flushing. Before the Civil War, it
is believed that it served as a station on the
famous Underground Railroad, a secret
network of cooperation aiding fugitive
slaves in reaching sanctuary in the free
states or Canada.
Flushing High School
Flushing High School is the
oldest free public secondary school in New York City; its charter was received
in 1875. The original school building was located on Sanford Avenue. During
the period 1912 to 1915 the present building was erected. An east wing was added
in 1954, and was dedicated in memory of former students who lost their lives
in World War II.
New York City Landmark: 1991.
On this site (in Michael
Milner's home) the Flushing Remonstrance was signed December 27, 1657 to protest
Governor Peter Stuyvesant's ban against Quakers and his restrictions on religious
freedom. The freeholders of the town who dared to sign their names stated, "we
are bounded by the law of God and man to doe good unto all men and evil
to noe man." Their courageous action has been called the first declaration of
religious tolerance by any group of ordinary citizens in American history.
The World War I Memorial
Erected in 1920 in
memory of all the men of Flushing who lost their lives. Designed and sculpted
by Hermonn Atkins MacNeil, a nationally famous sculptor and College Point resident.
10. The Civil War Monument
Erected in 1866, this monument is a memorial
to the men of Flushing who lost their lives in
the War Between the States, 1861-1865.
11. Flushing Town Hall
Built in 1862, Town Hall is a fine example of
early Romanesque Revival, a style of
architecture popular for public buildings of the
period. For almost fifty years, this building was
the focal point for the social, cultural and
political life of the village of Flushing. Among
the outstanding Americans who have spoken
here was the African-American abolitionist
Frederick Douglass, who visited Flushing in
1865. It is now the headquarters of the Flushing
Council on Culture and the Arts.
New York City Landmark: 1967. National
Reeister of Historic Places: 1972.
12. Daniel Carter Beard Square
Daniel Carter Beard was a resident of Flushing,
a civil engineer and an internationally known
artist. He illustrated Mark Twain' Connecticut
Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
probably best remembered in Flushing as a
founder and first national Commissioner of the
Boy Scouts of America. The square was
dedicated in his honor in 1943.
13. Friends Meeting House
Construction of the
Friends Meeting House began in 1694. The membership grew so rapidly that in
1714 it was enlarged by an addition as large as the original structure. The
exterior has remained unchanged since that date. Members of the Society, including
Samuel Parsons and his sons Samuel and Robert, served as "conductors" on the
in the years before the Civil War.
New York City Landmark:
of Historic Places: 1968.
In 1950, the Spanish-American
War Memorial Flagpole was erected by veterans of the 1898 War as a tribute to
all their comrades.
15. The Site of the
Office of the Flushing Journal
In 1842, the Flushing
Journal was founded by Charles R. Lincoln. Published weekly, it was the only
newspaper in town until 1852. Mr. Lincoln was highly respected as a fearless,
independent thinker, honest and loyal to the public's needs. The paper supported
the abolitionist cause in the years before the Civil War.
16. The Site of the William Prince Nurseries
Prince Nurseries were
established in Flushing in 1737, one of the first commercial nurseries in America.
In 1777, Lord General Howe ordered a guard to protect the rare shrubs and trees.
A 1789 entry in President George Washington's journal reads, "I set off from New
York in my barge to visit Mr. Prince's fruit gardens and shrubberies in Flushing,
St. George's Episcopal Church
St. George's parish, established as a mission
church of England in 1704, was the second
religious organization in Flushing. Services
were held in the old Guardhouse (at Main
Street & Northern Blvd.) until 1746 when the
first church was built on Main Street. The
second church, erected in 1821, served until
the present 1854 building was erected. Francis
Lewis, a signer of the Declaration of
Independence, served as a vestryman for many
years at St. George's Church.
The Site of the Flushing Female Association Schoolhouse
The first free school
in Flushing was established in 1814 by the Flushing Female Association. The members
of this organization were concerned about the future of the children whose parents
were unable to provide for their education. For more than a hundred years the
school flourished, primarily serving the African-American community in Flushing.
19. Macedonia A.M.E.
In 1811 the African Methodist Society,
forerunner of the present Macedonia Church, was
founded; it became the third religious organization
in Flushing. In the same year, the members
purchased a part of the Daniel Loweree farm on
which a building would be erected for religious
services. In 1837 the first church edifice was built
on approximately the same location as that of the
present church. In the years before the Civil War,
members of the congregation and its pastor Edward
Africanus were active in the early struggle for
African-American civil rights. It is
also believed that the church served as a
station on the Underground Railroad.
20. The Lewis H. Latimer House
The Lewis H. Latimer House was moved
from Holly Avenue in Flushing to its present
site in 1988. Lewis H. Latimer was the son
of Virginia runaway slaves. Self-educated, he
eventually became Thomas Edison's chief
draftsman. He improved on Edison's electric
light bulb by developing a carbon filament
and was part of a team which installed
electric lighting in New York City,
Philadelphia and London. Latimer was the
only AfricanAmerican on Edison's staff. He
also did the original drawings for Alexander
Graham Bell's telephone.
New York City Landmark: 1995.
21. RKO Keith's Theatre
The theatre originally opened as the
KeithAlbee Vaudeville Theatre on Christmas
Day, 1928. Thomas Lamb was the architect,
using the Mexican Baroque style. Against a
blue evening sky, the effect of twinkling
electric stars and projected drifting clouds
evoked a romantic feeling of sitting in a
Spanish garden. The entire building was once
designated a city landmark. The ticket lobby
and grand foyer, still landmarked, are intact
and await restoration. Jack Benny, Bob Hope
and other entertainers of the day played the
New York City Landmark: 1984. National
Register of Historic Places: 1982.
The Flushing Remonstrance was the first declaration of religious freedom issued by a group of citizens in American history.
Of the Inhabitants of the Town of Flushing toRight Honerable,
Governor Peter Stuyvesant, December 27, 1657
You have been pleased to send up
unto us a certain, prohibition or command that we should not receive any
of those people called Quakers because they are supposed, to be by some,
seducers of the people. For our part we cannot condemn in this
case, neither can we stretch out our hands against them, to punish, banish
or, Persecute them;, for 'but- of Christ God is a consuming ire,
and it is a fearful thing to fall in the hands of the living God.
in thiscase not to judge least we be judged neither to condemn last we be
condemned, but rather let every man stand and fall to his own Master: Wee
are bounde by the law to doe good unto all men, especially to those of the
household of faith. And though for the present we seem to be unsensible
of the law - and the Law giver yet when death and Ihe Law assaults us,
if wee have our advocate to seeke, who shall plead for us, in this case
of conscience betwixt God and our own souls, the powers of this world can
neither attack us, neither excuse us, for if God justifye who can condemn
anad if God condemn there is none can justifye.
And for those
jealousies and suspicions which some have of them, that they are
destructive unto Magistracy and Minstereye, that can not bee, for the
magistrate hath the sword in his hand and the minister hath the sword in
his hand, as witnesse those two great examples which all magistrates and
ministers are to follow, Moses and Christ, whom God raised up maintained
and defended against all enemies both of flesh and spirit; and therefore
that which is of God will stand, and that which is of man will came to
nothing. And as the lord hath taught Moses or the civil power to give an
outward liberty in the state by the law written in his heart desired for
the good of all and can truly .l judge who is good, who
is civil, who is true and who is false and can pass definitive sentence of
life or death against the man which rises up against the fundamental law
of the States General; soe he hath made his ministers a savor of life unto
life, and a savor of death unto
The law of love, peace and liberty in the states extending to Jews, Turks, and Egyptians, as they are considered the sonnes of Adam, which is the glory of the outward state of
Holland, soe love, peace and liberty, extending to all in Christ Jesus, condemns hatred, war and bondage. And because our Saviour saith it is impossible but that offenses will come, but woe
unto him by whom they cometh, our desire is not to offend one of his little ones, in whatsoever form, name or title hee appears in, whether Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist or Quaker, but
shall be glad to see anything of God in any of them, desiring to doe unto all men as wee desire all men should doe unto us, which is the true law both of Church and State; for our Saviour saith
this is the law and the prophets.
Therefore if any of these said persons come in love unto us, we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egresse and regresse unto our Town, and
houses, as God shall persuade our consciences. And in this we are true subjects both of Church and State, for we are bounde by the law of God and man to doe good unto all men and -evil to
noe man, And this according to the patent and charter of our Towne, given unto us in the name of the States General, which we are not willing to infringe, and violate, but shall houlde to-our patent and shall remaine, your humble subjects, the inhabitants of Vlishing.
Written this 27th tiny of December, in the year 1657, by mee
Edward Hart, Clericus
Tobias Fake The Marke of William Noble William Thorne, senior The Marke of-, William Thorne, junior Edward Tarne John Store Nathaniel,
Hefferd 'Benjamin Hubbard The Marke of William Pidgion The Marke of George Mere Elias Doughtie Antonie Feild Richard Stocton Edward,
Griffine, Nathaniel) Tue Nicolas Blackford The marke of
Mi cah Tie
The, Marke of Philipp Udall Robert Field, senior Robert Field, junior Nick,
Colas Parsell Michael Milner Henry Townsend George Wright John Foard Henry Semtell John Townesend Edward Farrington
This Brochure is funded mainly by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Senator Alfonse D'Amato, Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry and also by The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs with Special Assistance from Claire Shulman, Borough President of Queens, Council Member Julia Harrison, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, The Queens Legislative Delegation and the members of the Queens Historical Society.
Design: Gregory Antoine Saint Amand Illustrations: William Krooss Historical Research: James Driscoll Flushing Freedom Mile Committee, Chair: Joan Kindler Information Resources Committee, Chair: Lee Cogan Electronic Media Layout: Catherine Abrams Special Assistance: Mindy Lang, Cooper Union Printing: Apple Printing Inc.