Over the summer a group of Maspeth residents started pushing to landmark the firehouse at 56-29 68th Street. The structure first opened as a fire station in 1914 and will celebrate its centennial next year. Residents hope to protect the brick and limestone building not just because of its age and architecture, but also because of its significance during September 11th. They also point out that Maspeth, despite a number of historic structures, is home to no landmarked buildings.
Since the first push to landmark, some residents presented their proposal to Community Board Five in late September. Steve Fisher, one of the landmarking proponents, reports that the presentation was well-received by the audience, made up of both board members and the public. The group is working with one of the community board committees in an effort to carry on the board’s consideration. Ultimately, they hope to receive a letter of recommendation from the board for landmarking. As for the Landmarks Preservation Commission, they are currently reviewing the historical documentation and letters of support from residents, members of the firehouse and Council Member Elizabeth Crowley. Back in August, the LPC responded to the proposal by stating that the building is already recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. After a survey conducted by LPC of all New York firehouses, the Maspeth structure was not cited as a priority based on architectural significance. They also cannot count the events on September 11th as historically significant, since the LPC calls for a 30-year minimum regarding historic relevance.
Regardless, the firehouse proponents are not giving up. As they wrote in a followup letter, “As to the 30-year rule, we took exception to it on two counts: one, the building’s historical significant began well before 9/11; and, two, no one should have to wait until 2031 to determine that the role the building played on 9/11 is historically significant. To the first point, we said that the building had been serving the community for 100 years and that others had lost their lives while stationed there before 9/11 [William J Wandling, Jr. at age 31 on 16 Nov 1946]. To the second point, we expressed that we did not need another 18 years to know that 9/11 was a historic event; the role the Maspeth Fire House played on that day with nineteen men lost, more than any other fire house, was, indeed, historically significant.”