The Poppenhusen Institute is a five-story museum north of Queens in College Point. It was founded by Conrad Poppenhusen, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, who was born in Hamburg Germany and started a profitable rubber factory in the area. On 50th birthday in 1868, he donated $100,000 and the land for the construction of the institute. It was to be an educational-cultural center where workers and their children studied English, learned trades, and were introduced to art, music, theater, literature, and history. It was open to every race and all ethnic groups. Conrad also donated another $100,000 to pay for teachers' salaries and operating costs.
For many years the institute was run by the Conrad Poppenhusen Association. It served as the village hall with Conrad as the Justice of the Peace. It was home to a charge, the College Point bank, the public library,the firehouse, and even the jail. It was also home to the first free kindergarten established in the United States. Today the Poppenhusen Institute is a national landmark with exhibits of American Indian life from 1,000 years ago, and a place where children learn karate, music and dance. It is also a popular tourist attraction where visitors can see two original jail cells in the institute's basement. The restored ballroom where town meetings were held is also open to the public.
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