Dyker Heights

Advocates seek landmark status for Angel Guardian Home

February 22, 2018 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Will the Angel Guardian Home be declared a landmark? It will be up to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Community Board 10 will vote on a recommendation by its Zoning and Land Use Committee on Feb. 26 and send a letter to the commission. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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In a last-ditch effort to save the Angel Guardian Home in Dyker Heights from possible demolition by its new owners, senior housing advocates are throwing a Hail Mary pass to try to get Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration to designate four buildings at the site as city landmarks.

The effort to save the buildings is being led by Guardians of the Guardian, an ad hoc group of residents who live near the site and are advocating for senior citizen housing to be built there.

The Guardians recently filed an application with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to have the buildings declared landmarks. 

The group received assistance from the Historic Districts Council in filing the application, according to Brian Kaszuba, chairman of the Zoning and Land Use Committee of Community Board 10.

Located at 6301 12th Ave., the Angel Guardian Home was sold by its owners, the Sisters of Mercy, to an unnamed buyer in late 2017 at a price reported to be $23 million. It’s not clear what the new owners plan to do with the land. The home was established in 1899 as a foster care home for orphans. The expansive property takes up an entire city block.

On Feb. 26, Community Board 10 will vote on a recommendation by its Zoning and Land Use Committee to request that the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission consider the Angel Guardian Home for landmark status.

The committee is seeking to cajole the preservation commission into placing the Angel Guardian Home buildings on its calendar, according to Kaszuba, who said “calendaring” the proposal would save the buildings, at least temporarily, until the commission makes a final decision in the fate of the property.

“If it is calendared, it will temporarily stop anything from being done. It would stop the clock momentarily,” Kaszuba told the Brooklyn Eagle.

Turning the buildings into landmarks would likely prevent the new owner from tearing them down or installing major changes to the structures.

The four buildings were constructed in 1899 in an Ecclesiastical Beaux-Arts style, according to the Kaszuba, citing research conducted by the Historic Districts Council. The buildings were designed by architect George Streeton, who was also responsible for building the Cathedral Basilica of Saint James in Brooklyn.

The Angel Guardian Home buildings deserve to be recognized as landmarks, Kaszuba said.

“We feel that the type of architecture and the type of style of the buildings is worthy of landmark status,” he told the Eagle.

Remarkably, “all four buildings are still intact in their original state,” Kaszuba said.

Meanwhile, the multi-million-dollar sale of the Angel Guardian Home property is causing major ramifications throughout the neighborhood. 

The Narrows Senior Center, which operates within the confines of the property, was spared from eviction when local elected officials like Councilmember Justin Brannan, state Sen. Marty Golden and Assemblymember Peter Abbate stepped in to prevail upon the owners to allow the center to stay put until its lease expires in June.

The center’s operator had received a letter in early December from the Sisters of Mercy ordering the center to vacate the premises by Feb. 2.

The lawmakers held a rally outside the property gates last month and were joined by members of the Narrows Senior Center. 

“The Sisters of Mercy want the Narrows out. We get that. But not only is it not fair to ask them to leave early, it doesn’t seem to serve any purpose other than potentially fulfilling the request of their mystery buyer. The community doesn’t like how this real estate deal is going down,” Brannan said in a statement decrying the secrecy of the transaction. 

Following the rally, it was learned that the Narrows Senior Center had earned a reprieve and would be allowed to remain at the Angel Guardian Home until June.

The vast property should be converted into a housing complex for senior citizens, according to the Guardians of the Guardian.

The Guardians of the Guardian group was seeking to turn the property’s stately 100-year-old building and luscious green space into a “multistage senior housing complex” for area residents who would like to “retire-in-place,” said Frank Grassi, a leader of the group. 

The Sisters of Mercy established an orphanage at the site in 1899 and found homes for thousands of children over the ensuing decades. The orphanage closed in the 1970s.

MercyFirst, a nonprofit social services organization, moved onto the property a few years ago and operated a foster care program from the site, sharing space with the Narrows Senior Center. MercyFirst moved out of the site in 2017.


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