The Village of Sea Cliff has been awarded Preservation Long Island’s 2020 Project Excellence Award in celebration of the restoration of the Sea Cliff Firehouse’s windows last year.
The building has stood on Roslyn Avenue in downtown Sea Cliff for over 100 years. Preservation Long Island Preservation Director Sarah Kautz said the project was exciting because it is a prime example of the adaptive reuse of historic buildings, something which she said is a major focus for the organization.
The steel casement windows of the firehouse, which date back to 1931, were fully restored in a $700,000 effort to preserve the building’s architectural integrity. The Tudor revival-style structure is listed on the national, state and local registries of historic landmarks.
The village received a $370,000 grant from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in December 2017. Assemblyman Charles Lavine, a Democrat from Glen Cove, also provided a $125,000 grant for the project.
“I have great faith and great respect for our firefighters,” Lavine said, “and to know that they are in a building that is secure with fully functioning windows is a very good thing.”
Kautz said maintaining old buildings like the Sea Cliff Firehouse is exactly what Preservation Long Island promotes. Not only is it a way of preserving history, she said, but is also more environmentally and economically friendly. She said rehabilitating old buildings is generally cheaper than building new ones and helps to prevent the wasting of materials.
“It really shows that these buildings, even though they’re old, they can be rehabilitated and brought into the future with the community they’re built to serve,” Kautz said.
The culture of demolition and rebuilding on Long Island, she said, makes old buildings like the Sea Cliff Firehouse few and far between. She said it is sad to see a public building come down rather than be reused, especially when a community has relied so heavily upon it for so long. She is glad to see that Sea Cliff went down the preservation route.
“It’s projects like these that show that historic property is a reduce, reuse, recycle thing where you make use of an existing structure and improve it so it can give us another 85 years of service,” said Erinn McDonnell, the Sea Cliff Village Grant Administrator
McDonnell said the firehouse plays a part in what makes Sea Cliff feel like a unique community, and not just because of its age. She said the fact that it has been the headquarters of the village’s volunteer fire department shows it as the physical embodiment of Sea Cliff’s long-standing culture of volunteerism.
“We as a village are very proud of our volunteer fire department whose members, through their devotion to service, look after our life and property,” said Sea Cliff Mayor Edward Lieberman. “So, in return, our village has always demonstrated our gratitude by maintaining the historic landmark firehouse.”
Lieberman said the maintenance of the firehouse has been a priority of all village administrations, including his own. The windows were in need of repairs for a while, and he said he was thankful the project was accomplished for both the department personnel and the firehouse itself.
“The recent modernization of the windows throughout the firehouse was an achievement that we are all proud of,” he said. “We will continue to do our best in providing the fire department with the most modern apparatus and maintaining the beauty of the firehouse itself.”
“The project shows that with a little extra coordination and access to resources and technology,” McDonnell said, “that you can maintain and improve a building not just for aesthetic purposes, but also for very practical purposes.”
Alyssa Seidman contributed to this story