About the Building
Flushing Town Hall, built in 1862, is designed in the Romanesque Revival style popular at that time. During the Civil War, thousands of conscripts from all over Long Island were sworn into the Union Army in Town Hall's upstairs assembly hall, while the ground floor housed Flushing's civic offices. During the late 19th Century, a modest extension was added to the original building and Flushing Town Hall became a venue for light opera and traveling theatrical productions. For a time, the legendary P.T Barnum was its impresario and Tom Thumb was its star performer.
From 1902 (following Flushing's incorporation into New York City in 1898) until the early 1960s, Flushing Town Hall functioned primarily as a courthouse, and, following the addition of a second extension 1904, a jail. The lobby contained a bank branch, while the upstairs assembly hall continued to host community meetings and dances.
Given protected status by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1967 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, the building had nonetheless suffered extensive neglect from the late 1960s through the late 1980s. In 1990, at the insistence of Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, the City reclaimed the building and began the process of selecting a non-profit organization to manage the facility.
Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts (FCCA) was chosen and in 1990, under the direction of its founding Executive and Artistic Director Jo-Ann Jones, it began a three-phase, $8 million restoration of the landmark, converting it from an abandoned eyesore into a thriving center for the visual and performing arts. The first-floor galleries and performance space opened to the public in 1993 and the second-floor Great Hall Theater in 1999.
Today, Flushing Town Hall's facilities include a 308-seat concert hall/theater, a gallery, a classroom, offices, a garden that accommodates up to 250 people for outdoor events, and a gift shop.