This 135-Year-Old LES Firehouse is Now a Resource Center for the Henry Street Settlement
After about two years of remodeling work, the Henry Street Settlement this week cuts the literal ribbon on its newest facility. The Dale Jones Burch Neighborhood Center sits adjacent to the mothership and occupies the historic firehouse at 269 Henry Street.
Friday afternoon saw the arrival of the branding above red-painted doorway. All in preparation for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony and photo op this Wednesday.
The remodeled firehouse – the Settlement’s eighteenth program site – adds some 6,700 square-feet of space dedicated to the Neighborhood Resource Center/Parent Center (moving from 281 East Broadway). The program will offer 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 a few blocks north 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.