CENTER FOR THE WOMEN OF NY
Building 207 (aka, Enlisted Personnel Quarters), Fort Totten, Queens, New York
RESTORATION & ADAPTIVE RE-USE
Building 207 is located within a 136-acre site, formerly named the Fort at Willets Point, established in 1837 and now known as Fort Totten. The fort is named after Major General Joseph G. Totten, who established this major harbor defense and military base. Along with several other residentially-scaled buildings, this was built in 1905 as demand grew for more housing as the Fort expanded their Coastal Artillery defenses.
In 1968 the base became the home of the 77th United States Regional Support Command for the Army Reserve. The US Coast Guard took over a portion of the base in 1969. These two branches of the military retain a presence at this site, but the majority of the site and buildings were transferred to the Department of Parks & Recreation. Other agencies that have jurisdiction are the NYC Fire Department and the Historic House Trust. The entire site was designated The Fort Totten Historic District by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1999.
In 2002, The Center for the Women of New York (CWNY), under its founder Ann Jawin*, started negotiations with the NYC Parks Department. Building 207 was ideal for the proposed new use but, left vacant for 18 years, it was in terrible condition throughout including a raccoon infestation. The project team, led by Page Ayres Cowley Architecture LLC (PACA), was initially retained to determine the extent of alteration to make the best use of the existing room configuration and to limit new construction throughout, as the budget was modest given the amount of capital expense that was required. In the end, a comprehensive exterior restoration campaign was also included.
The porch columns, railings, windows and all decorative wood features were restored to their original appearance. An exterior lift was added to provide ADA access to the building and the entire first floor and basement were restored with the all new heating and plumbing systems installed.
Before restoration. Photo courtesy of PACA, LLC
The project was launched in 2007 to provide the new headquarters for the Center for the Women of New York at the historic site managed by the NYC Parks Department. As Ann Jawin envisioned, "this building will be a great asset not only to the women in this metropolitan area but will be accessible to the surrounding community. We believe that this historic landmark site will be the only building completely dedicated to full equality for women between the New York Metropolitan area and Seneca Falls in upper New York State."
Through varies funding sources from New York City Council members, NYS Assembly members, and the Queens Borough President's Office, to non-profit organizations, this project prevailed and moved forward with a budget of $3.4M. This project involved a partnership with the Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR), Department of Design & Construction (DDC), and compliance with several city and state agencies.
Restoration was completed in 2019 and won the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Project Award and the New York State AIA Excelsior Award, Honor Award for Historic Preservation.
* We are greatly saddened by Ann Jawin's passing on December 31, 2019, less than a month after the opening of the Center for the Women of New York. Without her strong perseverance and indefatigable enthusiasm over the course of 20 years, it is hard to imagine the completion of the complex. She was 97.
All photos courtesy of L-Ines Studio unless otherwise noted.
Exterior porch detail, after restoration
Exterior porch & column detail, after restoration
Exhibition space, after renovation
Multi-purpose space, after renovation
207 Totten Avenue, Fort Totten Park, Queens, NY
NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation
Center for the Women of New York
HISTORIC 1907 POSTCARD OF BUILDING 207 (FORMERLY 'ENLISTED PERSONNEL QUARTERS'), FORT TOTTEN, NY