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Queens Chronicle

Town Hall getting exterior upgrades

City fixing portico and side yard at historic 1862 Flushing building

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Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012 10:30 am

The exterior and yard of the historic 150-year-old Flushing Town Hall is undergoing a $1.6 million upgrade that will be completed in the fall.

The city’s Department of Design and Construction reports that the work will create more accessible spaces, bring the building up to code and restore the portico with historical accuracy. A portico is a porch leading to the entrance of a building, with a roof structure over a walkway, supported by columns.

Exterior work includes restoration of deteriorated wood at the entry and balcony, reconstruction of the masonry entry steps and cleaning and painting metalwork. Site work involves improving the fire exit route below the entry and improving signage, lighting and landscaping.

The garden, located to the east of the building, will get improvements to the ground surfaces, seating, lighting and plantings to be used as a performance space.

Flushing Town Hall is run by the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts.

The iconic brick building, located at 137-35 Northern Blvd., was built in 1862 in the Romanesque Revival style and housed Civil War troops and a recruitment center. It later served as a police station, complete with a jail, and a traffic court. In later years it was a privately owned dinner theater and used for office space, but it fell into disrepair until the city took it over in 1989.

A $7 million renovation by the city included turning the dilapidated second-floor theater into a state-of-the-art performance space. An earlier restoration project cost more than $3 million.

During the year, town hall features art exhibits, opera, classical music, jazz, dance and multicultural performances. It also offers programs and workshops for children.

Flushing Town Hall was named a national landmark in 1972. A few years ago, it became part of the city’s prestigious Cultural Institution Group.

The CIG is made up of 33 organizations from the five boroughs that are located on city-owned property. They receive significant capital and operating support from the city.

Other CIG members in Queens include the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, Museum of the Moving Image, the New York Hall of Science, PS 1 Contemporary Art Center, Queens Botanical Garden, the Queens Museum of Art and Queens Theatre in the Park.

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