By Naeisha Rose
Two buildings in Far Rockaway were up for consideration as preserved landmarks last week in Manhattan.
The first was Firehouse and Engine Companies 264 and 328/Hook and Ladder 134, located at 16-15 Central Ave., according to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.
The second facility up for designation was the 101st Precinct Police Station — formerly the 53rd Precinct — located at 16-12 Mott Ave., which is five minutes away from the firehouse, according to LPC.
The Renaissance Revival-styled firehouse, affectionately called “The Big House” by locals, was built from 1911 to 1913 by architectural firm Hoppin & Koen.
Prominent architects Frances Hoppin and Terrence Koen designed the three-structure firehouse with limestone at the ground floor, three segmental-arched vehicle bays, red brick cladding on the upper stories, a cast stone entablature and a brick parapet, according to LPC.
The precinct is a combination of the Renaissance and Colonial Revival styles and was designed by the Police Department’s Superintendent of Buildings Thomas O’Brien, said LPC. It was built from 1927 to 1928.
O’Brien started his career as a carpenter and later joined the police force in 1898 as a patrolman, and was eventually promoted to sergeant and lieutenant, but spent his spared time taking night classes in architecture at Cooper Union in the East Village.
Former U.S. president and then Police Superintendent Theodore Roosevelt personally appointed O’Brien as the department’s architect.
The police station features a Renaissance palazzo with a granite base, the ground story has arch openings and a terra-cotta cornice. The main entrance has original bronze lamps below a carved tablet containing the city’s seal. The second floor of the precinct has a Dutch/English cross bond from the Colonial Revival style. A one-story garage was made in granite and terra cotta and faces Mott Avenue.
Both structures were built after Far Rockaway was absorbed into Greater New York City in 1898, resulting in the Rockaway Peninsula becoming a commercial center and experiencing a surge in population growth.
The growing construction boom of municipal buildings throughout Far Rockaway and greater access from transportation to get individuals to mainland New York created a need for the firehouse.
With the commercial center in Far Rockaway expanding, the peninsula transitioned away from being a year-round resort community, resulting in the 53rd Precinct growing out of a wood-framed dwelling into the brick structure it now resides to accommodate its ever growing police force.
Both structures continue to be prominent fixtures in the Far Rockaway community.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose