BROOKLYN FIRE DEPARTMENT 1897
The Dutch settled the town of Bushwick in 1660. The original Dutch name for the area was Boswijck meaning “heavy woods”. The town of Bushwick was annexed by the City of Brooklyn in 1854. The German influx to the north added eleven operating breweries between 1850 to 1880. Southern Bushwick remained a farming community until the mid 1880’s. In 1889, the construction of an elevated railway from Manhattan fostered tremendous population growth to Bushwick. As the southern area developed, the need for additional fire companies became evident. Brooklyn organized eighteen new fire companies in 1896 including Engine 52.
On December 20, 1895, the BFD purchased a 25×100 foot plot for Engine 52’s firehouse from Mary L. Mintonge and William Van Voorhees for $2,400. The Parfitt Brothers, a leading Brooklyn architectural firm, was commissioned to design the new firehouse in early 1896. On May 20, 1896, the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper reported fierce competition among contractors bidding the job due to the architectural design. The new firehouse would be three stories, designed in a Flemish Revival style that would feature a prominently scrolled front gable and a roof top garden. The front façade would consist of brick and red sandstone from Lake Superior, detailed with a carved terra-cotta lintel and fluted iron pilasters. The ground floor contained sufficient room for the apparatus – consisting of a steam engine and hose carriage or “tender”. Stalls for four horses were located behind the tender. The second floor contained officer’s quarters to the front and the firemen’s dormitory to the rear. One of the newer designs incorporated into Engine 52’s house was a hose tower that facilitated drying fire hoses. Leonard Brothers was the winning contractor who built the firehouse for $16,947. Today the firehouse remains much the same as it was over 100 years ago.
In March of 1995, FDNY took over the EMS Division of the Health and Hospital Corporation. All firemen were trained as CFR-D technicians. On October 19, 1995, the Landmarks Preservation Commission of the City of New York designated Engine Company 252 a Landmark and the firehouse at 617 Central Avenue as its Landmark Site. The following excerpt was extracted from the official record:
“On the basis of careful consideration of the history, the architecture, and other features of this building, the Landmarks Preservation Commission finds that Engine Company 252 has a special character and a special historical and aesthetic interest and value as part of the development, heritage, and cultural characteristics of New York City.”
“The Commission further finds that, among its important qualities, Engine Company 252 is significant as one of the most distinguished firehouses in New York City; that it is an important building reflecting the expansion of civic architecture in the independent City of Brooklyn in the late nineteenth century; that as a major work by Parfitt Brothers, one of Brooklyn’s finest architectural firms, it is an important architectural monument in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn; that as an example of Flemish Revival style architecture, it illustrates the popularity of this mode of colonial design in the New York City area with its heritage as a Dutch colonial settlement; and that it is a well-maintained civic building that continues to be used for its original purpose.”
Engine 252 is the only landmark firehouse in continuous use since its inception 100 years earlier.
1998 FDNY SQUAD COMPANY 252
On July 1, 1998, Engine 252 was reorganized as Squad 252 and assigned to the Special Operations Command of the FDNY. – FDNY Squad 252 History
I believe this building at 395 Johnson Avenue was originally the home of Max Blumberg’s lumber and millwork business. He emigrated from Russia in the late 1800s and started a sash and door factory on Humboldt St in addition to building apartments. His fortune was wiped out in the business depression of 1907 but he recovered and at some point erected the building on Johnson Street. Blumberg was active in Jewish philanthropies and died at the age of 58 in 1938. His biography is available online at the link:
Another photo of the building is available online at the link
http://www.donwiss.com/pictures/BrooklynStores/h0072.htm. This photo shows some interesting architectural details and brickwork on the ends of the building. At the time this picture was taken in 2003, ADAR Imports occupied the building. Now it is apparently used by the Nationwide Chemical Co., Inc., a distributor of specialty cleaning, polishing and sanitation preparations. – Robert Baptista – Colorants Industry History
Previously on FAB:
- Private Label Industrial Maintenance Chemicals – Bushwick, Brooklyn – Aug 18th, 2008
Vincenzo took the shots above on Park Avenue just south of Broadway with his iPhone. So this is my theory. From the look of the fonts and the weathering, the signs written on the brick between the windows are clearly very early 20th-century (c.1910). My guess is the sign for Broadway Sleep Mart can be anywhere from 1930’s to 1940’s. I’m going to assume that the proprietors conducted their business at the Park Avenue location for several decades and then outgrew their space and moved up the street on Broadway. The public records above show the address at 835 Broadway with an incorporation of 1956 – up the street a bit in a larger space, now a laundromat. Vincenzo also points out that the Park Avenue location may have been maintained as a warehouse. I’m also inferring from these records that in 1962, they changed the name of the store.