Henry Street Settlement Unveils New Community Center in Historic Firehouse
The historic Henry Street Settlement just repurposed an equally historic Lower East Side property. The 1884 firehouse at 269 Henry Street, which is now rebranded as Dale Jones Burch Neighborhood Center.
The organization cut the proverbial ribbon on the new space – its eighteenth facility – last week with a press event.
“Today we open our doors and our hearts to all of you,” Settlement CEO David Garza said.
Garza thanked the staff in attendance. “You are the lifeblood of Henry Street and really define who we are,” he said.
The program occupies 6,700 square-feet inside the firehouse and offers free walk-in services such as crisis intervention, financial counseling, legal services, parenting support, and access to benefits like low-cost health insurance, food stamps, and social security. The building itself carries the Burch surname thanks to “generous gifts” from the family that helped the organization secure this property.
As previously reported, annexing the firehouse for services is a decade in the making. Indeed, approval for a community facility at 269 Henry was actually handed down by City Council in April 2007. At the time, Congresswoman Maloney even noted that the “firehouse was built as a community resource, and so it should remain,” a reference to the potential alternative of developers snatching the property. Two years ago, the city officially transferred ownership to the Henry Street Settlement in exchange for $1.
The historic firehouse at 269 Henry Street – built in 1884 and previously owned by the city – had been sitting dormant since shortly after 9/11, when its occupant, Engine Company 15, folded into Ladder 18 located alongside the 7th Precinct on Pitt Street. But the structure actually sits atop an even older firehouse, built in 1854 by the all-volunteer Americus Engine Company No. 6, whose first foreman (albeit in a previous location) was William “Boss” Tweed.