Flushing Town Hall marks 150 yrs.

Andrew Hong (l.) tastes the icing of one of the birthday cakes with his finger. Photo by Christina Santucci
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A historic building in Queens has seen its fair share of events — a century-and-a-half worth, to be exact.

Flushing Town Hall celebrated its 150th anniversary last weekend with a full schedule of activities aimed at demonstrating the cultural diversity of Flushing and the borough at large.

“The cultural diversity of Queens is on display right here in this building,” said Betsy Enright, director of external affairs for the hall, which was built in 1862. “We have Spanish artifacts in one room and traditional Korean drumming in the next room — it’s amazing.”

Enright said the anniversary comes at an opportune time since Flushing Town Hall, at 137-35 Northern Blvd., is one of 40 sites across the five boroughs vying for $3 million in grants. The top four vote-getters will have their projects fully funded and several runners-up will divide the rest.

People can vote once a day until May 21 at and Enright urged residents to “vote as many times as possible.” Flushing Town Hall is seeking repairs to its Romanesque windows.

The Partners in Preservation program, a collaboration of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express, selects a different city each year for the grant.

During Day 1 of its anniversary celebration, the hall hosted numerous Flushing residents — many of them children — who watched in awe as a group of Korean drummers pounded out beats in rapid fury.

“It’s so loud and fast,” said Kyun Gae, 11, who came to the hall with his mother, Keum.

“This is a great expression of history,” she said. “And it’s not just about Korean history, but really it’s about Queens history. It makes me proud to be both Korean and from Queens.”

The lower level of the hall displayed hundreds of drawings by Queens schoolchildren who were asked to express what the Flushing Town Hall meant to them. Enright said the drawings were as varied as the cultures of Flushing.

“The drawings are all so fantastic we had to hang them all up,” she said, as children sat drawing even more pictures for the hall to display.

Flushing Town Hall is the premier venue for music and arts in northern Queens, according to Shawn Choi, who works at the hall. The Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts welcomes local artists in the hall’s gallery and stages concerts in the Great Hall.

“The hall brings cultures together,” Choi said. “When you come here, you rethink the overall culture of the community — there’s a lot more here than one might think.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 7:26 pm, May 9, 2012
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