Old Huntington Firehouse was completed in 1912. The Huntington Fire Department, established 1843, was previously headquartered in a smaller firehouse built in 1869 on Wall Street. The firehouse on Wall Street, Huntington’s first, was demolished in 2014.

Located just beyond Old Town Hall Historic District, the Old Huntington Firehouse at 235 Main Street is one of the community’s great civic buildings. Unfortunately, the significance of the firehouse as an important site of civic heritage has never been officially recognized. Although Huntington’s Historic Preservation Commission nominated the firehouse as a new landmark in 2016, the Town Board declined to vote.

Officials are now considering whether or not to approve a plan to demolish the historic firehouse and redevelop the property.

Old Huntington Firehouse was proudly featured on early 20th century postcards. Its original brackets and cornice, clearly visible in the image above, still survive today. Other remaining original elements include a pressed and molded tin ceiling on the second floor, a tablet marked “Fire Dept.” on the front facade, and a tablet marked “1911” on the parapet.

The Town of Huntington’s Comprehensive Plan envisions a clear role for existing structures like the Firehouse in maintaining and enhancing the Town’s aesthetic character and identity. As page iii of the Town’s Horizons 2020 Comprehensive Plan (2008) observes:

“The Town of Huntington stands at an important juncture in its history. Over the last several decades it has moved from an era of rapid growth with ample reserves of undeveloped land to become a mature, largely built out suburban community for which preservation and enhancement of existing character will replace growth as the primary planning goal.”

Since demolition of Old Huntington Firehouse does not promote preservation or enhancement of the community’s existing character, the project as proposed is contrary to the goals of the Comprehensive Plan, which was adopted by the Town Board in 2008 and guides zoning as per Section 198-1 of the Town Code.

Elsewhere on Long Island, inspired planning and creative design at historic Main Streets have not only saved old buildings, but effectively leveraged the irreplaceable character of historic structures to promote a powerful sense of place that attracts interest and grows investment in the surrounding community. Moreover, as environmental quality is on the minds of many Long Islanders, reuse of existing buildings is an excellent sustainable option for downtown revitalization.

Studies by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Older, Smaller, Better project have also shown that mixed-use zoning achieves better economic and livability outcomes in places with smaller, mixed-age buildings. Based on these findings, mixed-use development projects in Huntington Village are likely to be more successful if older buildings like the Firehouse are reused alongside appropriate new construction.

Simply put, historic structures like the Old Huntington Firehouse can play a vital role in successful Main Street redevelopment. If it is possible to achieve the goals of redevelopment without the loss of yet another precious historic building in downtown Huntington, then why not explore an innovative design solution that invests in the unique value of Old Huntington Firehouse?  Is this great civic building and the history it represents worthy of demolition or recognition?

The original set of four pairs of swinging garage doors are well documented by this old postcard of the firehouse. Wonderful evidence for an exciting rehabilitation and restoration project

As firefighting equipment changed over time, so did firehouses. Overhead garage doors were installed to accommodate newer, larger fire engines at Old Huntington Firehouse. 

Since the 1960s, the firehouse has been reused for retail and arts space. The New Community Cinema, now Huntington’s beloved Cinema Arts Centre, began here on the second floor in 1973!

ACTION ALERT!

The proposal to demolish Old Huntington Firehouse is now being reviewed by the Town’s Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. Residents may submit comments regarding the proposal to the Board at:

Zoning Board of Appeals, Town of Huntington
100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743
Phone: 631-351-3107
Fax: 631-351-3108
E-mail: planning@huntingtonny.gov

Planning Board, Town of Huntington
100 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743
Phone: 631-351-3196
Fax: 631-351-3257
E-mail: planning@huntingtonny.gov

If you’d like to voice your support for the nomination of Old Huntington Firehouse as a Town landmark, Huntington residents should direct their comments to:

Huntington Historic Preservation Commission
228 Main Street, Huntington, NY 11743
Phone: (631) 351-3244
Fax: (631) 351-3245
Email: historian@huntingtonny.gov