2017-09-27 / Features

Historic Poppenhusen Celebrates Oktoberfest

By Jason D. Antos

Traditional German dancing was provided by Schlierach Paler.PHOTOS JASON D. ANTOSTraditional German dancing was provided by Schlierach Paler.PHOTOS JASON D. ANTOSMore than a century ago, College Point and the neighborhoods of the borough’s North Shore, possessed a unique claim to fame.

The area featured more beer gardens and saloons than any place else in the entire country.

Names like Stimmel’s, Flessel’s, Wenzel’s, Duer’s and North Beach were the main local attractions. The latter once occupied the entire area where LaGuardia Airport is now located.

Area residents, mainly German and Irish, enjoyed drinking cold beer and relaxing by the shores of Flushing and Bowery Bay and the Long Island Sound.

Until Jan. 16, 1920, when the National Prohibition Act or Volstead Act was put into effect outlawing the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcohol. The beer gardens and saloons tried the best they could to survive by using their facilities for other activities, including dance halls, weddings, sporting events, carnivals and other types of amusement.

The stock market crash of 1929, pollution in the water and the Great Depression ended their reign that lasted, in some cases, more than a century.

Fast forward to the 21st century: The Poppenhusen Institute in College Point on October 1st, the traditional gong and cowbell was sounded, marking the beginning of the Oktoberfest.

Dozens lined up immediately at the truck serving liverwurst and sausages and polish Traditional German music was provided by John Weber.Traditional German music was provided by John Weber.kielbasa. The popular Bourbon Street restaurant was on hand serving German pilsner beer. As more beer was consumed the merriment increased.

Later in the afternoon, the group Schlierach Paler performed live German dancing. Traditional German music was provided by John Weber.

“We are so happy that the community came out to support the Poppenhusen Institute on this fun-filled day,” said Poppenhusen Institute Executive Director Susan K. Brustman.

The festivities concluded with a pie eating contest and additional live music from Bill Popp and the Tapes who performed rock and roll.

Located at 114-04 14th Road and built by College Point’s benefactor, Conrad Poppenhusen, the Poppenhusen Institute was once used as a bank, library, courtroom and sheriff’s office (hence the jail cells) and kindergarten, all in one. The school was the first free kindergarten in the United States.

Historical literature detailing the rich history of College Point, Whitestone and Flushing was on saleHistorical literature detailing the rich history of College Point, Whitestone and Flushing was on saleServing the community for more than 140 years, the Poppenhusen Institute is in danger of being closed due to lack of funding.

The Poppenhusen Institute serves the College Point community by providing a variety of lessons, tours, lectures and rental space.

For more information, e-mail poppenhusen@juno.com or call 718-358-0067.

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