Conrad Poppenhusen (1818-1883) was a German American philanthropist, entrepreneur, founder of College Point, Queens, and founder of the first free kindergarten in the United States, on July 1, 1870.
Poppenhusen was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1818 and worked for a whalebone purchaser before immigrating to the United States in 1843 to start a whalebone processing plant in Brooklyn. In 1852 Poppenhusen received a license from Charles Goodyear to produce hard rubber products, and then moved the company to a small rural village in Queens.
College Point was founded in 1870 when Poppenhusen incorporated the neighborhoods of Flammersburg and Strattonport together. For his workers in the area, Poppenhusen built housing, the First Reformed Church, and numerous streets.
In 1868 Poppenhusen founded the Flushing and North Side Railroad, which connected College Point and Flushing with ferries to Manhattan. (Today the tracks connect to Manhattan directly via tunnels, but no longer to College Point). In that same year he also founded the Poppenhusen Institute, containing a vocational high school and in 1870, added the free kindergarten.
After Poppenhusen retired in 1871, his three sons lost much of his fortune, and he declared bankruptcy. Conrad Poppenhusen died in College Point in 1883 and was memorialized by the community with a statue in Poppenhusen Park in 1884. His remains were stored temporarily in nearby Flushing Cemetery and were then shipped months later to his native Germany where they were buried in Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg.
The College Point branch of the Queens Library, built in 1904, bears his name.
- Daniel P. Brunetto and Raymond W. Smith (July 1976). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Poppenhusen Institute". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2011-01-12. See also: "Accompanying three photos".