Poppenhusen lands role in Scorsese’s new HBO series
A scene for an episode of the upcoming HBO series "Boardwalk Empire" starring Steve Buscemi was shot last month at the Poppenhusen Institute in College Point. The image shown here was taken during a scene not filmed at the institute. Photo courtesy Craig Blankenhorn-HBO
By Connor Adams Sheets

The Poppenhusen Institute in College Point has held criminals in its now-defunct jail cells and taught youngsters in America’s first free kindergarten. And now it has a new distinction to add to the list of roles it has served since its construction in 1868: part of a Martin Scorsese production was filmed there April 19.

A segment of a later episode of the upcoming 12-episode HBO series “Boardwalk Empire” was shot in the institute’s great hall, which was decorated in 1920s-style decor for the occasion.

The fact that such a high-profile show came to the old-fashioned facility is something of a coup for its leaders, who have been trying to promote the building at 114-04 14th Road in College Point as a filming location for years.

The institute is included on a list of potential movie sites compiled by the mayor’s office and Poppenhusen sends packets of information about its features to location managers.

“There’s been a lot of filming going on in Manhattan for movies, but I’m glad that now they’re coming out into the boroughs and that they’ve found College Point and the Poppenhusen Institute,” said Susan Brustmann, director of the Poppenhusen Institute. “We can all benefit from more exposure and hopefully a few dollars. And it’s all about economic development for New York City.”

The show is set in Atlantic City in 1920, the dawn of Prohibition, “a time of change when women got the vote, broadcast radio began, and young people ruled the world,” according to promotional materials.

Starring Steve Buscemi and Kelly Macdonald, both of whom were on the set at Poppenhusen for the filming, the show tells the stories of Eastern Seaboard gangsters, running rum, fixing political races and more.

The scene shot at the Poppenhusen Institute depicted a meeting of the League of Women Voters, according to an HBO spokeswoman, but Scorsese in his role as producer was not there. The show’s first episode is set to debut in September.

The setting of the show is what made it work so well at the institute, Brustmann said.

“We’ve been trying to get people to come here for years,” she said. “Over the years different location managers came out to the site to look at the site and they liked the site, but it didn’t fit exactly, but this came along and it was finally a perfect fit.”

For more information about the Poppenhusen Institute, visit poppenhuseninstitute.org or call 718-358-0067.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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