The Fire Engine 39 / Ladder 16 Station House originally served as the headquarters of the New York Fire Department. It’s the third of four late-1880s landmarks in a row on E 67th Street.*
Napoleon Lebrun & Son, which designed more than 40 buildings for the department, designed this one in Romanesque Revival style. While Lebrun’s design included space for the Fire Commissioners and staff, the headquarters outgrew its space and moved to the Municipal Building in 1914. The fire telegraph (communications system) moved out in 1922. A lookout tower once topped the building’s right-hand bay (the section with single windows) – but was removed in 1949. The building became a training center, but by 1970 the city had planned to demolish the building. In 1980 the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the building as one of four landmarks on the block – but the Board of Estimate overturned the designation (and that of the adjoining police station). In the end, compromise: The facades of the fire house and police station were preserved and restored (1992), but new structures were built behind the 1880s face. The police precinct now uses the upper floors of the fire station.
(Unconfirmed scuttlebutt has it that “some 3 letter agency” operates/operated out of the building, which is directly across the street from an Eastern-bloc mission. Keep that under your hat.)
You might also enjoy Napoleon LeBrun’s Engine Company 31 on Lafayette Street, in a different architectural style – considered his most flamboyant fire house design.
*The four E 67th Street landmarks are: Mount Sinai Dispensary (now Kennedy Child Study Center) at 149; 19th (originally 25th) Police Precinct at 153; Engine Company 39/Ladder Company 16 Station House at 157; and Park East Synagogue, 163.
Engine 39 / Ladder 16 Vital Statistics
- Location: 157 E 67th Street, between Lexington and Third Avenues
- Year completed: 1886
- Architect: Napoleon Lebrun & Sons
- Floors: 6
- Style: Romanesque Revival
- New York City Landmark: 1998
- National Register of Historic Places:
Engine 39 / Ladder 16 Recommended Reading
- NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report
- Daytonian in Manhattan blog
- NYCFire.net forum item (rumor source)
- FDNYTrucks.com photo listing
- ArchiPlanet wiki entry
- Guide to New York City Landmarks (book: pg. 168)