We have often wondered about the status of the abandoned firehouse located at 120 East 125th Street in East Harlem and today we got our answer. Due to the tireless efforts of City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, this firehouse is one of five that was saved from the auction block, and will be converted into a cultural institution.
The firehouse, which is located just East of the 125th Street Metro North Station and the historic Corn Exhange Bank Building, will be given a new life by the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI). The CCCADI is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring and documenting the cultures of Africa in the New World. They are currently in temporary offices at Park Avenue and 125th Street, and if all goes smoothly, they hope to be in their new home in the firehouse on their 40th anniversary, September 2015. The groundbreaking ceremony will take place next month on September 16.
The building is a Romanesque Revival-style firehouse which was designed by Napoleon LeBrun & Sons and was completed in 1889. The firehouse was closed in 2003 and has remained empty. The president of the CCCADI, Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, hopes to create an environment filled with exhibits and educational workshops including workshops on Yoruba culture and religion. The center will join other cultural and artistic institutions in the immediate area such as The National Black Theatre on Fifth Avenue and The Studio Museum in Harlem located on the Western end of 125th Street.
Speaker Mark-Viverito has been busy, adding this firehouse project to the announcement last week that her efforts to kickstart La Marqueta are in full swing, with an Open House for future artists and vendors taking place this month. All welcome additions to the East Harlem community.
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