Brooklyn Fire Department Headquarters, “architecturally one of the finest buildings in Brooklyn,” has been restored to its 1892 magnificence. Amazingly, the downtown landmark was renovated without displacing tenants – and all 18 units of the formerly city-owned building were retained as “affordable housing.”
In his “Streetscapes” column, Christopher Gray notes that this building was Brooklyn’s answer to Manhattan’s Fire Department Headquarters (now the home of Engine 39/Ladder 16). After the City of Brooklyn became part of New York City in 1898, the headquarters functions shifted to Manhattan. The fire department used the building into the 1970s, then the city leased it to Polytechnic University. In 1989 the city converted the building to 18 apartments for low-income and senior residents.
After years of decay, the city launched a complex rehabilitation plan in 2013. As reported in The Brownstoner, the rehab involved The Pratt Area Community Council (PACC) as the developer, with financing from the City of New York (HPD), the Community Preservation Corp (CPC), and LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation). The project also received funding though Historic Preservation Tax Credits, and a grant through the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. Nomad Architecture was the project architect, and the Historic Preservation Consultant was Thomas A. Fenniman, Architect. MDG Design & Construction was the development partner and the contractor.
The arched doorway no longer admits fire trucks, and the legend “FIRE HEAD-QUARTERS” has been replaced by terra cotta scrollwork. Otherwise, welcome back to 1892 and the City of Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Fire Department Headquarters Vital Statistics
- Location: 365 Jay Street between Willoughby and Tillary Streets
- Year completed: 1892
- Architect: Frank Freeman
- Floors: 7
- Style: Richardsonian Romanesque
- New York City Landmark: 1966
- National Register of Historic Places: 1972
Brooklyn Fire Department Headquarters Recommended Reading
- Wikipedia entry
- NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report
- The New York Times Streetscapes | Brooklyn Fire Headquarters | Civic Ambition, and Politics, on Jay Street (April 16, 2006)
- NYC Housing Preservation & Development press release
- MDG Design + Construction project page
- Nomad Architecture project page
- The Brooklyn Paper – Jay Street firehouse finally getting restored (August 29, 2013)
- Brownstoner – Building of the Day: 365 Jay Street
- Brownstoner – Past and Present: Brooklyn Fire Headquarters
- Forgotten New York – BROOKLYN FIRE DEPARTMENT HQ, Downtown
- Emporis database