Brooklyn, one building at a time.
Name: Former Dean Street Armory, now home to the Nigerian American Muslim Integrated Community
Address: 793-801 Dean Street, between Washington and Grand Avenues
Neighborhood: Crown Heights North
Year Built: Original building: 1884, completely redone in 1909-11.
Architectural Style: Medieval Norman Keep inspired military building.
Architect: Robert Dixon (1884), Robinson & Kunst (1909-11)
The story: Robert Dixon, one of Bedford’s more prolific architects, built the original armory at this location for the Third Gatling Battery, a division of the Third Battery. The 3rd Gatling seems to have been the poor stepchild of Brooklyn’s guard units, and was relocated over and over, all over Brooklyn, mostly in decrepit older buildings, until this brand new armory was built for them in 1884. The men, their Gatling guns, and horses and equipment were housed here until 1895, when they moved to the Clermont Armory, which had been headquarters to the 23rd Regiment. The 23rd had just moved into their new place on the corner of Bedford and Atlantic Avenue.
This building then underwent massive renovation and remodeling between 1909 and 1911, so extensive that little actually remains here of Dixon’s original building. The firm that took on this project was Robinson & Kunst, which was responsible for remodeling and expanding Manhattan’s famous 7th Regiment Armory on Park Avenue. The Second Company Signal Corps moved in, and stayed until 1964, when the National Guard signed over the deed to the City of New York.
A number of community organizations had the building over the years. The tax photo from the early 1980’s shows the building as home to the Crown Heights Boxing Association, which records show had the building between 1981 and 1989. The armory became the Nigerian American Muslim Integrated Community building in 1999. They have installed a new front entrance recently, and made other interior improvements.
This building is always forgotten when talking about Brooklyn’s great armories. It’s much smaller, and doesn’t command the streetscape like all the rest of them do. It’s also the only one not on a corner, and much less visible. It’s still a great building, and it’s good to see it being put to good use by an organization that is taking care of it, and using it fully. GMAP