I was skulking through Yorkville this past spring in and out of the rain when I noticed this superannuated relic on East 87th just east of Lexington Avenue. It’s a tidy two-story brick building with lengthy arched windows and doors. Noting the sign above the entrance, I figured it was a movie prop or the real McCoy, and I’m happy to report that the latter is the case.
The newly organized Suburban Hook & Ladder Company #13 received this handsome department building, which opened on January 1, 1868. The company served Yorkville, but its firefighters were of considerable renown and were called to serve for fires in other parts of town, such as an explosion on Park Place, August 22, 1891.
The firehouse was built with mid-19th Century ornamentation such as scrolled keystones and chain motifs. By the end of the 1920s most of that had been stripped off and the firehouse took on the appearance it has today. However, at the roofline the firehouse appears as it was when it was constructed, with ornamentation remaining in place.
After about a century H&L 13 moved two blocks away to East 85th. In 1962, though, none other than Andy Warhol, just before making his name in the avant-garde art world, rented the second floor as a residence and studio. Thankfully, building owners have also touched up and repainted the sign over the door.
I don’t know what to tell you about the tailor shop next door, other than to say if it’s a freestanding building, it’s one of NYC’s smallest.