Sunday, September 22, 2013

India Street Firehouse - 88 India Street

India Street Firehouse - 88 India Street
(built 1910)
Original Firehouse of Engine Co. 15 circa 1872
The City Beautiful movement produced impressive civic architecture and likely influenced the many beautiful historic firehouses around Brooklyn, including the one at 88 India Street in Greenpoint. The former firehouse was built to house what was then Engine Company 115, later 215 of the FDNY. Engine Company 115 went into service as company 15 of the Brooklyn Fire Department in 1872 and was reorganized into their new building on July 1, 1910.[1] Brooklyn engine company numbers were first changed when Brooklyn was annexed by New York City in 1898 and the fire companies were integrated with the FDNY in 1899. The second reorganization and renumbering of fire companies came in 1913.[1]  Engine company 215 was in service until November 25th 1972.[2] At one time the firehouse had been scheduled for demolition, however, it was spared by the city and auctioned off in 1975 for a mere $19,600.[3][4] Prior to being sold at auction, the building was used by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation for storage.[3]

Construction floor plan for India Street Firehouse
Construction Plan for India Street Firehouse - Engine Company 215
When I first noticed this building I thought it looked a lot like a firehouse but it seemed a little small to house a fire engine. As it turns out, it was a firehouse built for horse drawn fire apparatus which included an 1861 Amoskeag second-size steam engine and an 1871 Amoskeag four-wheel hose tender.[1] The ground floor housed the engine wagon, hose wagon, stable and feed room. The dormitory, officers room, bathroom and kitchen were located on the second floor. Now, the building houses two apartment rental units including a 1600 square foot loft with a large closet that was once used for a fire pole.

Firehouse Doors

Although this video titled "Last Fire Horses Retired" is not from the firehouse at 88 India Street it is a good illustration of a horse drawn fire engine being hauled from a similar size fire station. The last time a horse drawn engine was sent out on call in Brooklyn was in 1922.[5]

  1. "The Old Quarters-Brooklyn Engine Company 15" By honorary Battalion Chief Frederick B. Melahn Jr.
  2. Boucher, Mike "Disbanded Companies" Mike Boucher's F.D.N.Y. History Page online.
  3. Carroll, Robert "19G Puts Him in a Fire House" NY News. 17, December 1975
  4. Ellis, Junius "Retired Firehouses Find New Careers" New York Times. 3 April, 1977
  5. "New York's Changing scene" New York Sunday News Magazine August 1974


  1. I have the original plans for the firehouse with the stalls for the horses. They are over 100 years old. My father kept them during a purge day when he worked for NYC buildings dept. I have several others as well.

    1. Thank you for the info. If there is any way for you to scan the construction plans, I would love to see them. I would also like to get a copy of the plans over to the guys at Preservation Greenpoint. My email:

  2. Special thanks to Robert, who commented above and sent me the century old construction plans for Fire Company No. 215.

  3. I lived across the street from 1969 - 1973. I was 4 almost 5 when the station closed. The firemen were always so great to have around. They were just as much a part of our neighborhood as its residents. My fond memories of the 215 includes A few fireman that would umpire our stickball, football, kickball or dodge ball games. Bandage oir cuts and scrapes or even let us check out their turnout hear or the engine. It's pretty special to live so close to a firehouse.

    1. Thank you for sharing your memories V.J. The firehouse is near where I live and it is one of my favorite buildings in the neighborhood. I didn't grow up near a firehouse but my mom was a paramedic instructor for Dallas when I was a kid. All of the firemen there had to also be EMTs. So, I spent a fair amount of time hanging out in firehouses when I was a kid.