Historical Queens Sites Dress up for the Holidays

Need an escape from the hectic holiday rush? Take a step back in history to a simpler time, at least for a couple of hours. Many local historical houses are hosting holiday tours where you and your children can experience the sights, sounds and tastes of  holiday traditions from early Queens. Check out these wonderful historical sites for a new perspective on the holidays.


Snowed in at the Manor

How did people enjoy the holidays in the 19th Century? Visit the King Manor Museum for a glimpse into holiday celebrations of the past. Listen to stories about historical winter fun and make your very own pomander, a traditional ornament made by sticking cloves into a clementine orange and rolling it around in cinnamon. You’ll be enjoying the scents of the season long after the holidays are over! This is a “Hands on History” program, which is an educational program put on by the museum one Saturday a month. While the craft is appropriate for children 5 and older, children of all ages can enjoy story time and the beautifully decorated house.

When: December 10 from 12:00-3:00 (though the museum will be open for tours until 5:00)

Where: King Manor Museum – 90-04 161st St. Suite 704
 Jamaica, or call (718) 206-0545

Cost: Free


Christmas Tree Sales and Holiday Open House

If you’re still looking for your Christmas tree, visit the Queens Farm House. Support a local tree farm!

Keep the holiday fun going with a tour of the beautifully decorated Queens Farm House. There will be a craft table set up for kids 4 and older. The craft changes every year, but in the past children have painted mugs and made key chains. They can also nosh on cookies and sip mulled cider.

When: Tree Sales through December 24th; Open House December 26-28 from 12:00-4:00

Where: Queens Farm House- 73-50 Little Neck Parkway Floral Park, or call: (718) 347-3276)

Cost: FREE


Jazzy Holiday Tour

Jazz up your holidays with a trip to The Louis Armstrong House. The
King of Jazz and his wife Lucille lived in their Queens home for 30 years. The house is completely preserved, so you are experiencing it just as the Armstrongs did. This 40-minute guided tour is unique because as you move from room to room you not only see how they lived, you hear Louis and his family going about their daily lives, which of course included his music. This year, for the first time, the tour has been changed for the holidays. In addition to the house being decked out with a Christmas tree and trimmings, the audio portion of the tour has been infused with the sounds of the Armstrongs entertaining for the holidays, Louis singing in the house with legendary artists such as Nat King Cole, and reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas” in his den. Children as young as 5 can enjoy learning about this amazing musician and perhaps pick up a love of jazz themselves.

When: December 1 – 30; Tuesday-Friday 10:00-5:00, Saturday and Sunday 12:00-5:00 (last tour leaves at 4:00 on all days)

Where: Louis Armstrong House Museum, 34-56 107th St., Corona, or call (718) 478-8274

Cost: $10, Students and Seniors –  $7, Kids 4 and under – FREE


Flushing Historical House Tour

With all of the historical sites in Queens, who has time to visit them all? Well, you can check out six in one day at the Flushing Historical House Tour, and enjoy unique, holiday-themed activities and refreshments at each one. You’ll get a taste of what it was like to celebrate the holidays in Flushing before  The houses featured on the tour are: Bowne House, Kingsland Homestead, Lewis H. Latimer House Museum, Voelker Orth House Museum, The Friends Meeting House, and Flushing Town Hall. A trolley bus will run on a continuous loop of all of the sites. You can start at any one of the houses, but none of them will be providing parking. There is a nearby Municipal Parking lot on Union Turnpike and 37th Ave., or you can take the bus or 7 train. You can purchase tickets on-line at queenshistoricalsociety.org or at any of the sites. Below are some highlights of what you can expect at each site.

Kingsland Homestead: Create holiday items at theVictorian Craft workshop, good for children 5+. They also have a “Growing up Queens Exhibit” that features items and stories collected from Queens residents.

The Friends Meeting House: Take advantage of a very rare opportunity to visit this historical site. It is usually only open for worship, but for this event you can explore the first house of worship in Flushing and its historic cemetery. Enjoy a special performance by the Flushing High School Choir at 4:00.

Voelker Orth House: This museum, bird sanctuary and Victorian garden will feature piano performances all day and a special plant sale.

Lewis H. Latimer House Museum: This was the home of African-American inventor Lewis H. Latimer, who lived in this house from 1903 until his death in 1928. He was instrumental in developing the telephone and the Incandescent light bulb. At this open house you can sample many traditional holiday treats.

Flushing Town Hall: This Flushing cultural and political center is now home to the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts. You can learn about the rich history of this site and enjoy contemporary exhibits as well. There will be performances of the Nutcracker at 1:30 and 3:30 (additional ticket required – Tickets: $16/$12 Members; $12 Children/$10 Member Children, $2 discount for Holiday House Tour ticket holders).

Bowne House: The museum parlor will be decorated for the holidays and open to visitors at 1:00 and 3:00 for a talk on American Christmas customs from colonial times through the mid-century.

When: December 11, 1:00-5:00

Where: Various locations in Flushing, or call (718) 939-0647 x17

Cost: $10, Children 12 and under are FREE


Megan Ross