Call it a Hail Mary pass.
Nearly two weeks to the day after supporters of Dyker Heights’ Angel Guardian Home rallied outside its still-to-be-shuttered Narrows Senior Center, Community Board 10’s Zoning and Land Use Committee voted unanimously to make a last-ditch effort to help save, at the very least, the skeleton of the storied structure.
The committee, chaired by lifelong Ridgeite Brian Kaszuba, unanimously supported a motion Thursday evening, February 15, to request that the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) expedite the calendaring of an application to designate the Angel Guardian Home an individual landmark.
“The Zoning and Land Use Committee unanimously believes that the Angel Guardian Home is worthy of consideration of landmark status,” the chair told this paper. “The committee believes this historic property, which is completely intact in its original 1899 condition, meets LPC’s criteria. Its history, distinct architecture, social contributions to the community are all strong reasons to secure designation.”
The Angel Guardian Home – a 140,000-square-foot Dyker Heights institution that, since the early 1900s, has taken in countless orphans, becoming a formal adoption agency in the 1970s – was sold at the end of last year to a still unnamed buyer.
This move, despite repeated pleas from local residents and community stakeholders to consider either senior housing, a school or some other combination of the two that would benefit the neighborhood at the massive, block-long site, hints at trouble, supporters say.
Still, Kaszuba stressed, the committee hopes LPC will consider the request — assuming it passes the full board — based solely on the site’s deep-rooted history.
“The committee firmly stands by the decision to recommend that LPC consider this site 100 percent based upon the merits and not simply to prevent potential future development at its location,” said Kaszuba, associate director of the Center for NYC Law at New York Law School, adding, “we do understand the timing of this decision, but feel that we have an obligation to protect our community’s landmarks before it’s too late.”
The site was built in 1902, according to city records, and served as an extension of the Convent of Mercy, housing hundreds of orphans and eventually acting as a formal adoption agency until the 1970s.
In 2003, the Angel Guardian Home merged with St. Mary’s of the Angels Home to form the MercyFirst network of agencies. Up until late last year, the campus – which spans the entire block – housed the offices for the Sisters’ foster care program as well as a senior center, which had been told initially to close for good the day of the rally but which got a reprieve following the rally to its original end-of-lease month of June.
The Dyker Heights community bid adieu to the institution at a November, 2016 goodbye party, during which employees, former volunteers and past residents were able to reminisce in preparation for Angel Guardian’s office’s eventual move to Industry City in Sunset Park.
The motion to make a formal request to LPC will go before the full board on Monday, February 26 for approval.