Landmarks Votes to Designate Bronx Opera House, FDNY Buildings as Individual Landmarks

The Fire Alarm and Telegraph Bureau, Bronx Central Office. Image Credit: LPC.

On June 13, 2023, the Landmark Preservation Commission voted unanimously to designate the Bronx Opera House, Engine Company 88/Ladder Company 38 Firehouse, and Fire Alarm Telegraph Bureau, Bronx Central Office as individual landmarks. All three buildings located in the Bronx have architectural and historical significance to the borough.

The Bronx Opera House

The Bronx Opera House is a four-story Italian Renaissance Revival building located at 436-442 East 149th Street. Constructed in 1912, the Bronx Opera House became a significant social gathering place for the rapidly growing Puerto Rican population in the South Bronx in the 1950s. This saw the Opera House transform into a major center for Latinx culture after previously serving as an original stop on New York’s theatrical “Subway Circuit,” which featured Broadway productions performed in outer boroughs before departing on regional and national tours. The Opera House became well-known for its series of nightclubs and famous Latinx performers, such as Charlie and Eddie Palmieri who recorded their 1961 album “Pachanga at Club Caravana” at the the Bronx Opera House. More information about the Bronx Opera House and its history can be found here.

The Bronx Opera House building. Image Credit: LPC.

Council Member and Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala stated, “The Bronx Opera House holds unspeakable amounts of history and cultural relevance to the East Harlem and South Bronx community. The building itself is part of the Latino American story here in New York City and its preservation is a reminder to all of us of the contributions made by Latino Americans throughout our City’s history.”

Fire Department Connected Landmarks

Engine Company 88/Ladder Company 38 Firehouse is located at 2225 Belmont Avenue. The firehouse was first constructed in 1908 to serve the Belmont neighborhood of the Bronx and reflects the advances in firefighting technology of the time, including have both the capacity for horses and mechanized firefighting equipment. The Firehouse was designed by the Broadway theater design company Herts & Tallant in the Prairie style, who also became advocates for building plans that incorporated fireproofing. Find more information about the Firehouse here.

Fire Alarm Telegraph Bureau, Bronx Central Office is located at 1129 East 180th Street in the West Farms neighborhood. The office was established after the five City borough consolidation in 1898 when the Fire Department of New York’s fire-alarm telegraph system needed to expand from the Manhattan-based office to better handle the citywide need of a fire-alert system. The Bronx Central Office of the Bureau was designed by Brooklyn architect Frank J. Helmle in 1912 in the Renaissance Revival style and continues to play an important role in the New York City Fire Department’s communication systems. Further readings about the Fire Alarm Telegraph Bureau, Bronx Central Office can be found here.

The Engine Company 88 Firehouse in Belmont. Image Credit: LPC.

Laura Kavanagh, Fire Department Commissioner, stated, “Engine Company 88/Ladder Company 38 is celebrating 115 years of service to the Belmont section of the Bronx. Coupled with the Bronx Communications Office, with over 90 years of FDNY communications, both locations provide the infrastructure for the Bronx response. With these landmark designations, residents will continue to receive crucial emergency services in the Bronx.”

All three of the Bronx sites were identified to be landmarked by the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s research team as part of a comprehensive Bronx-wide survey updated conducted in the previous year.

Landmarks Chair Sarah Carroll stated, “These historic buildings tell the story of a time of transition and reinvention for both the Bronx and New York City as a whole, and reflect the Commission’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that designations reflect the rich heritage of every borough.”

By: Vanessa Cameron (Vanessa is a CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2024.)

LPC: Bronx Opera House, Engine Company 88/Ladder Company 38, Fire Alarm Telegraph Bureau Bronx Central Office (LP-2667, 2668, 2669, June 13, 2023).





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