Built ca. 1661, the Bowne House is a microcosm of social, cultural, and political history. It is the oldest and most historic building in the Borough of Queens and one of the oldest in New York City.
The Bowne House has witnessed more than 350 years of American history, beginning when the family patriarch, John Bowne (1627-1695), was arrested for allowing Quakers to gather in his home for worship. His trials marked one of the earliest appeals for religious tolerance in the New World. The Bowne House has also been connected to the Underground Railroad network, with Bowne-Parsons family members having participated in abolition and anti-slavery activism.
The Bowne House presents the story of one family that grew with America, witnessed history unfolding, and took great pride in fostering American values of freedom, liberty of conscience, and economic opportunity.
This story comes alive through the Bowne House and its collections, preserved and treasured by the nine generations of family who lived in the home. Its unique collections of furnishings tell us how the home’s occupants lived and worked, as well as how they interacted with their neighbors, the City of New York, and the wider world. As the site of a 300-acre farm in its early history, Bowne House saw the transition of Flushing from a rural to an urban community.
The Bowne House is owned by the City of New York and is a member of the Historic House Trust. It has been operated by the Bowne House Historical Society since 1945, which owns the collections and is responsible for the interpretation of the museum.