Two historic FDNY buildings in the Bronx may become city landmarks
Fire Alarm and Telegraph Bureau, Bronx Central Office. Images courtesy of the Landmarks Preservation Commission
Two Bronx buildings associated with the Fire Department of New York may become New York City landmarks. The Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday voted to calendar the Firehouse, Engine Company 88/Ladder Company 38 in Belmont, and the Fire Alarm and Telegraph Bureau, Bronx Central Office, both of which are architecturally significant and represent historic moments in the development of the city’s fire department.
Firehouse, Engine Company 88/Ladder Company 38.
Located at 2225 Belmont Avenue, the Engine Company 88/Ladder Company 38 firehouse was designed by architects Henry Beaumont Herts and Hugh Tallant for the FDNY and completed in 1908. The Prairie-style building was constructed to serve the growing population of the Belmont neighborhood.
Design elements include deeply set windows with limestone enframements and decorative brickwork with standard and Roman brick. The narrow, three-story firehouse has living quarters on its second and third floors, which are situated above twin vehicle bays and facilities for horses on the ground floor, according to the LPC.
“Engine Company 88/Ladder Company 38 is an impressive example of early 20th-century civic architecture and is the city’s only known example of a firehouse incorporating Prairie-style influenced design,” Lisa Buckley, LPC Staff, said.
Before their design of the firehouse, Herts & Tallant were known for their work on several iconic NYC theatres, including the New Amsterdam Theater, Booth Theater, and the former Helen Hayes Theater. Their works were known to incorporate fireproof building designs.
Engine Company 88/Ladder Company 38 is unique in that it was constructed during a small window of time between 1880 and 1910 before the FDNY’s adoption of the standardized Model Fire House Plan. This small period of time produced architecturally distinct firehouses, including Engine Company 88.
Located at 1129 East 180th Street, the Bronx Central Office was designed by Frank J. Helmle for the FDNY’s Fire Alarm Telegraph Bureau and built from 1913 to 1915. The one-and-a-half-story, Italian Renaissance Revival-style T-shaped building is clad in light brick with a deep terracotta cornice and hipped roof with Spanish tiles, according to the LPC. The sides of the building feature large-arched windows, three on each side and one on the building’s rear.
The building is one of four borough offices created during the early 20th century in response to the city’s developing fire detection system, which recently had incorporated a telegraph system that used public alarm boxes connected to a central office that relayed signals to nearby firefighters. The bureau is still in active use by the fire department.
Compared to other neighborhoods in New York City, Belmont has few individual landmarks, with the only designated landmark being sections of the nearby Bronx Zoo.
Both buildings will head to a public hearing next, followed by a vote by the commission.