Flaming out: City still has no plans for decaying old Engine 204 firehouse

Back in the day: The Brooklyn Fire Department’s Engine Company 4 otuside the station house circa 1892.
New York Public Library

This red-hot real-estate is going cold!

The historic Engine 204 firehouse in Cobble Hill has been sitting empty since it was closed in 2003, and the city still has no concrete plans to make use of — or even clean up — the 160-year-old building that is now blighted with graffiti.

Many locals are still hoping to see it reopen as a station, but if not (and the Fire Department says they shouldn’t hold their breath), the city must find a new tenant instead of just leaving it to decay, neighbors say.

“It’s kind of a disgrace that it’s still sitting there and rotting away,” said Cobble Hill resident David Burney, a former commissioner of the city’s Department of Design and Construction. “It’s really sort of a blight on the neighborhood.”

After closing the DeGraw and Court street blaze-busting hub 14 years ago, the city variously considered selling it and turning it into a schoolhouse, before striking a deal with the Brooklyn Philharmonic in 2008 to redevelop it with a community center, practice rooms, and artist spaces.

But the symphony group went bust in 2013, and the property has just kept gathering cobwebs.

The Department of Cultural Affairs is currently in charge of the structure, and a spokesman said it is planning to work with locals to determine the future of the building as a “cultural asset to the community.” But he wouldn’t provide any details on the process, saying only that the agency is in the preliminary stages of restarting the project, and will have more updates later this year.

The building is so historic that it still bears the name of the Brooklyn Fire Department, although it is even older than that — it was originally built in 1857 as the Montauk Hose Company No. 4, according to the bible of such things, the 1892 tome “Our Firemen: the official history of the Brooklyn Fire Department, from the first volunteer to the latest appointee.”

And yet the city is not keeping the storied station house in a condition befitting its place in borough history, locals say — the bold, red building that once greeted Brooklyn’s Bravest has now faded to a dingy hue, and is marred by vandalism, boarded-up windows, and peeling paint.

“Nobody seems to be taking care of building, it’s forlorn,” said Community Board 6 district manager Craig Hammerman.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Dark and dingy: Local leaders Craig Hammerman and Amy Breedlove outside the blighted station.
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

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