They call themselves the Guardians of the Angel Guardian Home.
The 13-member group of Dyker Heights residents has one goal in mind: to protect and preserve the 114- year-old building that once served as an orphanage, which is up for sale.
“We’re just trying to keep the community the way it is,” said Mary Jo Tipaldo, one of the members of the group.
The Sisters of Mercy announced they were selling the 140,000-square-foot home back in February, 2016. Since 1902, they have housed hundreds of orphans and began acting as a formal adoption agency in the 1970s, in 2003 forming the MercyFirst Network. The campus now serves as offices for the Sisters’ foster care program as well as a senior center.
Fran Vella-Marrone, president of the Dyker Heights Civic Association, stands behind the local group and its mission to preserve the history of this neighborhood gem and turn it into something that will benefit the neighborhood.
“We don’t want this property to be sold to just anyone. We want something that is going to fit in the community,” said Vella-Marrone.
Vella-Marrone, who is also a member of the group, wants to squash many rumors surrounding the property and who it’s going to. According to Vella-Marrone and Tipaldo, Catholic Charities of Brooklyn are putting in a bid for the property.
While they are unsure of what the home will turn into, they hope it could turn into a senior residence.
“There are still a lot of things happening. It’s a big project, and for now, we’re just going to let it run its course,” said Vella-Marrone.
According to a spokesperson from the MercyFirst Network, the organization is still trying to find a buyer that will fit with the Dyker Heights community and give the Guardians what they’ve been pushing for.
“The Sisters of Mercy are in the process of identifying real estate professionals to evaluate and market this property. Our hope is to identify a buyer who will develop the property for housing, keep it consistent with the surrounding neighborhood and preserve green space,” said the MercyFirst spokesperson.
No matter what happens to the property, Vella-Marrone and the rest of the group want to reassure the rest of the Dyker Heights community that they will work to try and make sure the property is sold to someone who values the history of the building.
“This place should’ve been landmarked a long time ago, but we are ready to make sure it is sold to the right people,” said Tipaldo.