Six Brooklyn electeds representing differing political ideologies came together this week to write a letter to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission urging them to save the Angel Guardian Complex in Dyker Heights and grant it landmark status.
Among the signators were the more progressive Public Advocate Letitia James (D) and Councilmembers Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) and Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Bensonhurst); moderate Democrat Peter J. Abbate Jr. (Bensonhurst, Sunset Park), Republican State Sen. Martin J. Golden (Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach) and State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Boro Park, Flatbush, Sunset Park, Bensonhurst), a Democrat who caucuses with the Senate Republicans.
The Angel Guardian Home, formerly known as the Angel Guardian Home for Little Children, was first built in 1899 as a Catholic orphanage. It was founded by the Sisters of Mercy, an order of Catholic women originating from Ireland.
The complex occupies an entire city block between 12th and 13th Avenues, and 63rd and 64th Streets. It includes a central administration building; nursery building; reception and intake building; and a laundry building.
Though the utility of the complex has changed (it now serves as a community home for the elderly), the building has remained entirely intact since the date of its construction.
But the lawmakers fear that that may change if the building isn’t granted landmark designation. Late last year, the Sisters of Mercy sold the property to an anonymous buyer for the reported price of $24 million.
As of now, it hasn’t been made public who the building was sold to or what the new owners plan to do with it, although a spokeswoman for the Sisters told the Brooklyn Daily that the new plans for the space will involve the construction of “some affordable housing.”
But if the new owners decide to tear the complex down, said the lawmakers, it would have grave consequences for Dyker Heights, as the building fulfills a vital role in the neighborhood.
“We are very concerned over the future ownership of the site, which at this time, is not known,” said the letter. “We fear that the change in ownership is a direct threat to losing this complex, which has been an important part of our neighborhood for over a century. Landmarking will ensure that these historically significant, beautiful structures will remain in Dyker Heights for future generations to enjoy.”
The lawmakers went on to point out that the neighborhood has been overlooked and neglected by the Landmarks Committee, having not a single official landmark or historic district to its name.
“The scarcity of LPC- protected architectural resources in Southern Brooklyn is a cause for great concern, and it communicates a strong lack of parity for our districts compared with several other Brooklyn neighborhoods who benefit from landmarks,” said the letter.
But the Angel Guardian Complex, they said, is richly deserving of such a distinction, since it’s an integral part of the neighborhood’s history and culture.
“The complex served the community for over a century,” said the letter. “Now rare, orphanages were a fixture in our city’s society until the mid-19th century and it is important to preserve that history. We respectfully urge you to consider landmark status for the Angel Guardian complex, which is architecturally and historically important to the neighborhood and the City of New York.”