Long-shuttered Carroll Gardens firehouse to become new music school

brooklyn firehouse
The city has secured $6.5 million to renovate the shuttered DeGraw Street firehouse and turn it into a music school.
Courtesy of Vamos Architects
They’re bringing it Bach to life!

The city unveiled its $6.5 million restoration plan to transform the long-shuttered Engine 204 firehouse in Carroll Gardens into a music school Wednesday, where the former blaze-busting hub will serve as the new outpost for the musical nonprofit the Noel Pointer Foundation, according to the organization’s head.

“I’m looking forward to great things happening in this space,” said Chinita Pointer. “We’re going to fill it with music.”

City bureaucrats with the Department of Cultural Affairs will oversee the redevelopment of the 162-year-old building on DeGraw Street between Court and Smith streets, and has not yet set a start date for the restoration, but officials anticipate the facility to open by 2024.

The city capital funding for the project includes $3 million from Mayor Bill de Blasio, $2.5 million from City Council, and $1 million from Borough President Eric Adams.

The Bedford-Stuyvesant music organization — along with Williamsburg design firm Vamos Architects — plan to revamp the two-story 4,300-square-foot space to accommodate program space, classrooms, a recording studio, and offices.

The Noel Pointer Foundation plans to teach classical music classes in the former firehouse.Courtesy of Vamos Architects

The group currently teaches kids to play classical and modern music — instructing them in string instruments, piano, deejay, composition, music theory, and singing — out of its headquarters at the Herkimer Street community development organization Restoration, where it will live until the Carroll Gardens center opens. Educators also teach kids remotely at 36 public schools across the city.

The city closed the old Brooklyn firehouse in 2003 and considered selling it or turning it onto a schoolhouse — before cutting a deal to redevelop it into a community center, practice rooms, and artist spaces with the Brooklyn Philharmonic in 2008, despite some neighbors at the time hoping it would become an active firehouse again.

But that scheme collapsed when the symphony group went bust in 2013 and the dilapidated property remained vacant while city art honchos searched for a new organization to fill the space — and eventually stuck a deal with the Bedford-Stuyvesant group in 2018, according to Cultural Affairs spokesman Ryan Max. 

The building was erected in 1857 and still bears the initials of the former Brooklyn Fire Department from before the Great Mistake of 1898 — when the vibrant city of Brooklyn became just one of five New York City boroughs, according to a 1892 tome dedicated to Brooklyn’s Fire Department History. 

The 162-year-old building still bears the initials of the old Brooklyn Fire Department.Photo by Kevin Duggan