It was big news last year that Anderson Cooper purchased the historic firehouse at 84 West 3rd Street in the South Village with intentions to turn the building into a private home. The sale came in the midst of GVSHP’s campaign to gain landmark protections for the building (the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission refused to consider GVSHP’s proposal for individual landmark status for the building; the building is, however, within the South Village Historic District proposed by GVSHP, the first third of which was designated in June of 2010; the remaining two-thirds, however, which includes the fire patrol house, has still not yet been considered by the LPC, in spite of promises to do so — help get the City to act HERE).
But we could not be happier with the gorgeous exterior renovation that highlights and respects the unique history of the building.
84 West 3rd Street, also known as Fire Patrol Building #2, was built by Franklin Baylies in 1906, and is one of only three remaining fire patrol houses in the entire city (there were originally ten). The Fire Patrol of the New York Board of Fire Underwriters is New York City’s oldest private firefighting institution. Formed by insurance companies, these types of patrols were established in major cities across the country in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is thought that they were begun by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia. The origins of the group in New York can be traced to as early as 1803 when the Mutual Assistance and Bag Corporation was formed by a group of volunteers to protect and preserve the contents of buildings from fire and water damage. In 1839, the New York Board of Fire Underwriters was officially formed as a salvage corps with the mission of fighting fires and preventing losses to insured properties. The fire patrol in New York City represented the last operating insurance-company-funded firefighting force in the nation (it disbanded in 2006).
In 2010, after lobbying and research by GVSHP, the firehouse was determined eligible for the State & National Register of Historic Places as an example of “a highly intact early 20th century firehouse with Beaux-Arts Ornamentation.” Significant exterior ornamentation includes: rusticated piers, ornate capitals, and a keystone over the entrance with the face of the Roman god Mercury, the god of speed. By removing layers of dark red paint, the renovation showcases much of the original brick, limestone, and terra cotta details. Windows have been replaced and restored and the egg and dart detailing along the top of the building has been cleaned. Some of the original interior details that remained at the time of the NR report include: a herringbone-patterned brick floor, glass wall tiles, brass fire poles, a spiral stair, and ceiling beams/poles for drying canvases. According to Cooper’s architect, Cary Tamarkin, much of the interior, including the fire poles, was to be preserved. Prior to the building going up for sale, bronze 9/11 memorial plaques were removed from the facade of the building. Thankfully, Cooper said he plans to restore and reinstall the plaques onto the building’s facade. Now, Anderson, when do we get our official invite for dinner??