LPC Calendars Dyker Heights’ Angel Guardian Home

Angel Guardian Home, Main Building Image Credit: Brooklyn CB10

Angel Guardian Home would be first landmark designation in the Dyker Heights neighborhood. On June 30, 2020, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to calendar the designation of the Angel Guardian Home, located at 6301 12th Avenue in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.  The former orphanage, which encompasses the entire 12th avenue frontage between 63rd and 64th Streets, is composed of four original, completely intact buildings: a central administration building, a nursery building, a reception and intake building, and a laundry building. The designation is sought only for a partial portion of the block, specifically the main building.

The Angel Guardian Home was built in 1899 and designed by George H. Streeting in an Ecclesiastical Beaux-Arts style. Shortly after opening, the four-story main building was expanded to include the north and south wings containing the chapel and serving administrative functions. A nursery and boiler house were eventually constructed and by the 1920s, the orphanage and its gardens extended to encompass the entire block. All buildings, except the laundry building, feature carved limestone door surrounds, round-arched and segmental arched windows with limestone keys and voussoirs, limestone quoins, carved wreaths and foliate motifs, and ornamented copper cornices. The laundry building features the polychromy of its sister buildings in a spare composition.

The complex, commissioned by the Sisters of Mercy as a branch of the Covent of Mercy in Clinton Hill, was used as an orphanage for nearly two-hundred children between two and seven years old. By the mid-twentieth century, the complex was used to house unmarried mothers and their children. After three months, mothers were generally prepared for the workforce and expected to provide money for their children still housed on the facility.

The orphanage closed in the 1980s and the complex has been utilized mainly as a senior center since. The property was sold to a private party in 2018 with a deed restriction requiring that the property be used for community uses. After the transaction, community members grew concerned that under the City’s Zoning Resolution, the new owners had the ability to tear down the historically and architecturally significant site and replace it with rowhouses or another structure. On January 22, 2018, Brooklyn Community Board 10 voted and approved their Zoning and Land Use Committee’s call for Landmarks to expedite the calendaring of the Angel Guardian Home over these concerns.

Main buildings carved limestone door surrounds Image Credit: Brooklyn CB10

On the decision to calendar this site as an individual landmark, Landmarks Chair Sarah Carroll stated, “this is a large site and the buildings prominence derives from its architectural quality as well as well as its monumental scale, spanning the entire width of the block and its siting back up on a hill surrounded by low scale residential buildings and as [the presenter]  said, no other landmarks.” Landmarks’ proposed calendaring report states, “For over 120 years, the Angel Guardian Home’s distinctive main building has been prominent within the Dyker Heights neighborhood and remains highly intact.”

Elaborating on the decision to calendar only portion of the block, Carroll added, “Other portions of this full block lot are being developed by multiple owners including the School Construction Authority and a private residential developer. We felt it was essential that the main building be preserved in combination with these other changes…We also wanted to ensure that the Commission had some control over the portion of the development that will abut the building. In speaking with the owners, we were able to secure their agreement to file restrictive declaration that would make a portion of the lot abutting the main building subject to design and massing criteria.” According the Carroll, more information on that declaration will be discussed at a future public hearing.

Brooklyn Community Board 10, the Historic Districts Council, and the Dyker Heights Civic Association, collectively referred to as “Guardians of the Guardian,” collectively oppose a partial landmarking of the lot because it leaves out the covenant building. In a joint letter with Council Member Carlos Menchaca, the Guardians of the Guardian write, “this carve out is unacceptable. There is simply no architectural or aesthetic basis for this omission as this building is designed in the same high style as the main orphanage building.”

The calendaring was unanimously approved. The public hearing will be held on August 11, 2020.

In addition to this coverage, CityLand will continue its coverage of the COVID-19 impact on New York City and its related government entities. For New York City-specific COVID-19 updates, the City established an information site with updates from all major administrative agencies. Agencies include the Department of Buildings, City Planning, Citywide Administrative Services, the Department of Finance and the Department of Transportation among others. You can find that page here.

By: Jason Rogovich (Jason Rogovich is the CityLaw Fellow and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2019)



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