Best firehouse that might disappear (2008)

Fire Patrol 2

One of the oldest working firehouses in the city may be shut down on October 12, along with the two other houses of the New York City Fire Patrol. This state-chartered organization, founded in 1839, saves property during fires (estimates range from $10 million to $100 million worth a year), resets sprinklers afterward, and functions as a rescue crew during emergency situations, like a blackout. But the New York Board of Fire Underwriters, representing the insurance companies, has voted not to renew the charter, despite the group's costing only $8.6 million a year. The property value of Fire Patrol 2, on West 3rd Street between Thompson and Sullivan, may have something to do with it. The house was built in 1906, when the local division moved from Great Jones Street. The four-story brick building is, according to patrolman Tony Emanuelle, one of the most photographed firehouses in America. At around 32,000 square feet, it's luxury-loft material in a prime location. Among its charms are an original winding staircase (the pole is no longer used), a horse stable out back (from the early days), and 20-foot ceilings upstairs. Should the board of underwriters succeed in closing the patrol, each insurance company would stand to make just pennies off the sale of the property, says Emanuelle. Meanwhile, a modest work of early-20th-century architecture, whose beauty lies as much in its civic purpose as its exterior, gets unmade—destroyed by demolition or, at best, fetishized for those "historic" qualities of which it has just been robbed.


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