The Landmarks Preserv- ation Commis- sion is holding public hearings on the proposed desig- nations of the Voelker Orth Museum, located at 149-19 38th Avenue in Flushing, Queens. The hearing will take place at the Commission's offices located at 1 Centre Street, 9th Floor North, beginning at 9 a.m. Attached please find a statement of significance for the designation.
Voelker Orth Museum, Bird Sanctuary and Victorian Garden
149-19 38th Avenue, Flushing, Queens
Built c.1891; altered c.1899-1909
The large, picturesque house and garden at 149-19 38th Avenue was built c.1890-91 as
part of the Murray Hill section, just east of the village of Flushing. Local developer Frederick Dunton was on the board of the Long Island Railroad, and probably influenced the construction of a new Murray Hill railroad station in 1889 that spurred development in the area. Four lots on the corner of Lincoln Street (now 38th Avenue) and Wilson Avenue (now 149th Place) were purchased by James Bouton, a local shopkeeper. He owned the property for approximately ten years, during which time he constructed this house.
Conrad Voelker, a German immigrant who published several German language newspapers, bought the house in 1899, and made a series of alterations up through 1909.
Voelker lived in the house until his death in 1930. After that, the house was occupied by his daughter Theresa, who had married police surgeon, Dr. Rudolph Orth. Their daughter Elizabetha Orth continued to live in the house until she died in 1995, leaving provisions and money in her will to establish the house as a museum of local history and nature, hence the name Voelker-Orth.
The large, two-story house has an irregular roof line, composed of a pitched section, a flat section and two jerkinhead gables. Its many handsome details include imbricated shingles, eye-brow dormers, projecting bay windows and porches with wood-shingled roofs as well as decorative leaded-glass windows. It also has a large adjoining open area, currently being developed as a “Victorian garden.” The Voelker-Orth house is one of the few large late nineteenth century houses surviving in the neighborhood, representing a building type once very common in Flushing.
The Voelker-Orth house was recently restored to its 1909 appearance, and is open to the public as a house museum and garden.