A Mother's Day celebration was held at the Voelker-Orth Museum, Bird Sanctuary and Victorian Garden at 149-19 38th Ave., Flushing. Conrad Voelker, publisher of a German-American newspaper, bought the house in 1899. His descendents lived there until his granddaughter, Elizabeth Orth. died in 1992.
The delightful afternoon in the historic house started in the parlor. Sherry and bon bons were served as the attendees gathered to be entertained by the Yanagita-Bogin Duo. Masako Yanagita, violinist, is the concert master of the Queens Symphony and Abba Bogin, pianist, is personnel manager of the Queens Symphony. The piano was a Sohme made in Astoria. The combination of the good acoustics and the soft gold and beige parlor made for a perfect setting.
Selections played during the afternoon included compositions of Schubert, Beethoven and Massenet. The final piece, entitled "Banjo and Fiddle" by William Kroll, was made popular as a recording by Jascha Heifetz. The talented musicians were warmly applauded by the guests.
After the musical performance, the visitors retired to the spacious dining room where a lengthy table was handsomely set with the Orth family Wedgwood china and silver. The typical Victorian high tea included scones with clotted cream, jam and homemade marmalade, and finger sandwiches along with hot tea. Later, each guest enjoyed a plate with three homemade desserts from the house's recipe collection: a spicy ginger bread, a cream cheese cake and vanilla ice cream with nuts.
After the tea, guests were encouraged to see the other rooms of the museum furnished with items from both the Voelker and Orth families. Two of the downstairs rooms were set up as libraries with built-in shelves and windows facing the Victorian garden. The upstairs dining room and bedroom were typical of the period. The bedroom was complete with clothes of the period including two mannequins; one in an elaborate, white wedding dress and the other in a child's costume of the period.
It was a beautiful, sunny day - perfect for walking the lovely garden. Volunteer Joan Walker lent her expertise to help us admire the many blossoms, flowering bushes and the fish pond. It was very tranquil and hard to believe that Northern Boulevard was just a few feet away.
The area in which the museum is located is known as Murray Hill. It was named so by the developer who purchased the property from the owners of the Parson Nursery, famous for being the first American nursery to import exotic plants such as the Japanese maple. Samuel Bowne Parson brought the first weeping beech tree from Belgium. It became a living landmark of Flushing for 151 years at its location on 37th Ave between Bowne Street and Parsons Ave. next to the home of the Queens Historical Society.
The entire program and service for the day was under the direction of Catherine Abrams, whose skill and charm made the experience unforgettable and delightful.
The museum will host a Dance Under The Stars June 19th. Call 718-359-6227 for more information.
©2004 Community News Group
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