The Second Avenue Firehouse, located at 17 Second Avenue, was a built at the turn of previous century @ 1898. The structure served as Bay Shore’s first centralized firehouse. It is referred to in contemporaneous documents as the Second Avenue Truck House, a name that is somewhat misleading. In those days Bay Shore’s fire department didn’t have horses, no less motorized trucks. All equipment was pulled by the firemen themselves. Department members often came from the community’s most prominent families. The wood frame “truck house” looked like a cross between a church and a lighthouse. With its distinctive horizontal and vertical wood siding, barrel-vaulted ceiling and beadboard interiors, the firehouse was clearly intended to represent something more than a utilitarian garage. In 1919 the fire department sold the Second Avenue Firehouse to the United Hebrew Congregation. After serving as a synagogue and religious school for more than a decade, the building had several light manufacturing tenants and was ultimately converted into a rooming house. By 1997, the 100-year old building was unrecognizable. Once an elegant example of stick-style Victorian architecture, the firehouse had lost its two towers and distinctive front doors. The sad state of the building was typical of many of the older homes on Second Avenue, a street plagued by decades of absentee ownership.
The Restoration Project
In 1997 a group of local business owners and residents formed South Shore Restoration Group Inc. (SSRG), a tax-exempt, not for profit organization. The organization’s stated goal is the revitalization traditional neighborhoods that retain their historic distinctiveness. SSRG was guided by the belief that historic restoration will enhance property values in depressed communities and will ultimately encourage an increase in owner occupancy in blighted, but historic neighborhoods. In 1997, South Shore Restoration Group Inc. acquired the deteriorated structure. The goal of SSRG’s project was to remove later additions, restore the existing historic elements of the building, and reconstruct the parts that had been removed, such as the bell tower, and hose drying tower. With the aid of original photographs, architectural drawings were developed for the complete restoration of the historic structure. The restoration of the firehouse was completed in early June 2000. A re-dedication and bell ringing ceremony was held on June 11, 2000. restoration architect, Tony Szekalski was awarded a prestigious Special Citation for Design Excellence by the NYSAIA for his work on the firehouse. This award puts the Second Avenue Firehouse in their company of other high-profile award-winning projects such as the restoration of Radio City Music Hall. The Second Avenue Firehouse is now listed on both the New York State Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places.