Thursday, November 5, 2015

Firehouse to Become Home, Studio

It will be a rare case of "living over the store" when Michael Sylvester moves into an 1898 firehouse next year. Sylvester won Zoning Board approval Wednesday to live upstairs over a work space where he designs gardens for his Park Slope clientele.

Sylvester told the board he is a "student of architecture" who intends to refurbish the firehouse with red doors and a wrought iron decorative balcony on the second floor. He also plans a rooftop garden over the 3-bedroom apartment. The sturdy building at 730 West Fourth Street has 16-inch walls, he said.

Board Vice-Chairman Alejandro Ruiz suggested a sign with 19th Century lettering to mark the building as the "West End Firehouse." Other suggestions were to restore the brick facade to authentic colors and to paint the door to the apartment red to match the large fire engine doors.Sylvester was advised to consult the Historic Preservation Commission on authentic colors.
Google image
The board was very encouraging to Sylvester and gave him until September 2016 to complete his plans.

Sylvester's company is Garden Construction, with the motto, "Building Beautiful City Gardens, One At A Time." He pledged to plant three trees in containers at the firehouse in addition to the rooftop garden.

Despite its age, the firehouse is ineligible for registration as a historic site, but would be considered a contributing structure to a neighborhood historic designation. 

According to the Plainfield Tercentennial  Yearbook published in 1984, until 1827 the city had only bucket brigades to fight fires. "That year, Fire Engine Company No. 1 was formed and housed in a building on Front Street for the next five years," the authors wrote.  Several other companies followed and a hydrant system was installed in 1892. The city currently has three active firehouses, on South Avenue, Central Avenue and Bergen Street.



  1. How exciting!!!! When's the open house party?

  2. That station was taken out of service when the station at Bergen and West Third opened. I believe the Bd. of Ed. owned it for years.