3 KingsAuthor: Control , Date Posted: 2011-05-31 10:43:11
The first of these buildings it the former 68th precinct building. It was landmarked in 1984, though it still sits derelict today. The second is the former 75th precinct, which was vacated by the NYPD and was used for awhile as a church before falling into it's current neglected state.
Both of these buildings have previously been attributed to architect Emile M. Gruwe, whose personal life seemed to be a tawdry mess (more on this later). Gruwe's name appears in the original Landmark preservation writeup, though it appears that the research behind the LPC write up (as well as others online) was very much incorrect. The LPC now attributes the design of this building, along with many other police stations in Brooklyn, to one George Ingram. This recent NY Times article focuses on Ingram's work for the 'Department of Police and Excise' - Brooklyn's forerunner to what eventually became the NYPD when all the boros joined into NYC.
Ingram seemed to live a productive life, designing basically every old station house in Brooklyn. Gruwe, however, seems to have lived an 'interesting' life - and by interesting, I mean having fathered at least 3 kids (plus maybe a 4th that died or worse) with a wife whom apparently was either insane or he was trying to kill. The couple was the subject of an NY Times article on December 6, 1878 titled "A WOMAN'S STRANGE STORY; IS EMILIE GRUWE INSANE. HER REMARKABLE NARRATIVE--AN ARCHITECT WHO IS ACCUSED OF BEING A MONSTER--WHAT MR. GRUWE SAYS." - where Mrs. Henrietta Gruwe claims her husband attempted to poison her, abandon her penny-less on a trip to germany, and have her institutionalized upon her return. Given all of the drama at home, I find it hard to imagine Emile got much work done - and certainly couldn't have cranked out the numerous police stations that are now attributed to Ingram.
The third police station is one that has already been presented on this site. Listed as the fictitious '74th precinct' this stationhouse is also an Ingram design which used to be home to the 87th precinct. It sat disused for a number of years before being converted into apartments.
Adventure & Current Status:
The old 68 frankly isn't worth the inherit risks of trying to climb around inside of. Upon arrival here you're greeted by the amazing brick and terra cotta exterior - a true gem of Romanesque hybrid design and craftsmanship. The story quickly changes on closer inspection though. After hopping the fence, access to the building interior is easy enough to find. however, there really isn't much left to the interior. A fire in 1980 caused just enough damage to the wooden structures inside to cause a partial interior collapse. The center of the building has caved in clear to the basement level, leaving no access to the upper floors. The parts of the first floor that have not collapsed are shaky at best. This isn't the kind of place you want venture far into, as the added weight of your body can easily further collapse the floors and send you into a freefall. That's fine if you have no regard for your own life, but maybe not so good for anyone tasked with having to rescue you.
The old 75 stationhouse may or may not be in just as horrible of a shape as the 68. We took a quick look around the exterior but saw no obvious access points. I have heard of attempts by actual city employees to gain entry to this build having been repeatedly turned down. One can only assume no one is allowed inside due to potentially hazardous conditions which, if found by the Department of Buildings, would likely result in fines (which really wouldn't help save the building). The current owners - "Peopleís First Baptist Church" seem like an interesting crowd. They seem to want to reopen it as a shelter for homeless pregnant women - a very noble cause. However, no source of funding is currently known, and an interior repair of a building this size could run up to 100k. That didn't stop their representative from being quoted in the NY Times recently as stating that renovations will start next year. "Yes, we have the money, I see the money, because God has the money. Itís on faith." Apparently Lady Simone is also the author of a 'new york best seller'Last Castle in Brooklyn, which features a photo of the building on the cover.
The future of both of these buildings is, for the foreseeable future, relatively grim. The 68th would require a complete gut rebuild, with new crossbeams, flooring and utilities. The 75 is presumed to be in better shape, but no one really knows for sure, and the ambitious current plan to open it as a shelter without significant funding doesn't seem like it'll happen anytime soon.
For both of these buildings, I can only hope they are repaired and restored to their former beauty.