New York Daily Photo Analytics

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Perfect Hostess

Looking at today's photos, you might reasonably conclude that I left for New England early and am using Thanksgiving as a foil to justify use of a photo from outside New York City limits.
If I tell you that this building is in the five boroughs, you might then reasonably conclude that this is in some outer corner of the Bronx or deep in the rural areas of Staten Island.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, this Quaker meeting house, over 300 years old, is located at 137-16 Northern Boulevard in Flushing, Queens. See more photos here.

Northern Boulevard is a major thoroughfare in Queens and this particular location is just around the corner from bustling Main Street, in the heart of the largest Asian neighborhood in the United States.
Walking by this building, perhaps on the way to dim sum, you will either be extremely startled or, given its ancient character, perhaps not even notice it, as I am sure is the case with many passersby.
A sign welcomes visitors, but the place looks completely devoid of human activity. On my visit, I tried opening the doors, really just to confirm my feelings that this place was closed.

I was, however, extremely surprised to find the door unlocked, and I was greeted enthusiastically by two women dressed in a manner befitting some centuries gone by. When I asked if I could take photos, expecting a negative all so common, I was instead welcomed to do so and escorted through the entire two-story dwelling. Lights were turned on for me, doors were opened, and every manner of accommodation was made to my photographic interests.

Built in 1694 by John Bowne and other early Quakers, the Old Quaker Meeting House is, by all known accounts, the oldest house of worship in New York State, the second oldest Quaker meeting house in the nation, and one of the three oldest continuously active sites of religious activity in the western hemisphere. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1967.

A lovely graveyard planted with indigenous trees and flowers is part of the Meeting House's grounds. The house is the only surviving example in the New York State of a typical 17th century ecclesiastical frame structure of medieval design, with beamed ceilings and handmade benches. Read more here at the Old Quaker Meeting House website.

Lest the cynics among you think that all of this was a precursor to the hard sell with a biblical assault or, perhaps, the soft sell, in fact, nothing of the kind occurred. Discussions centered around the structure itself. I took some literature of my own accord.

I can not speak to Quakerism per se, but I can tell you that I have visited many places in this city, and my requests for taking photos have been received with a broad range of responses, mostly negative. Here, at the Old Quaker Meeting House, I found the Perfect Hostess :)


Naomid said...

And then there really are practicing Quakers living in NYC? Huh, this is a real surprise, good job Brian.

Brian Dubé said...

Naomid - Yes there are. I believe there are in Manhattan too at 15 Rutherford Place.

Annie said...

Thanks for your interesting and informative post...along with all your other posts!

Good to catch up here, especially since I am back visiting your fair city for a bit!