Preservationists Thrilled East New York’s Empire State Dairy Landmarked, Say More Needs Saving

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It’s been a long wait.

After years of advocacy by local preservationists and a year-long process, the complex at 2840 Atlantic Avenue, better known as the Empire State Dairy, was officially declared a New York City landmark this morning.

Under a new law, the time the commission had to decide the matter was drawing to a close, and the structure was at risk of alteration or demolition because of development spurred by the mayor’s recent East New York rezoning.

empire state dairy

Photo by Susan De Vries

“It’s an incredible day,” Farrah Lafontant of local preservation group Preserving East New York told Brownstoner. “We’ve been waiting my entire lifetime for East New York to get its latest landmark.”

East New York native and architect Zulmilena Then, the group’s founder said, “This is such an important achievement for the East New York community after the last designation 36 years ago.”

empire state dairy designation 2840 atlantic avenue east new york

Porscha C. Williams and Zulmilena Then of Preserving East New York

Preservationists said this is just the start of all the work they have to do in East New York.

“It’s a tremendous victory for the community and saving a historic institution,” said tile expert and preservationist Michael Padwee. “But, although landmarked, it still has to be watched very carefully,” he said, referring to the building’s new owners and the work they plan to undertake on the complex, which needs environmental remediation.

East New York is “an area whose history is profoundly underserved by official recognition and greatly at risk from the City’s plan,” Simeon Bankoff, executive director of preservation advocacy group Historic Districts Council, told Brownstoner, referring to the recent rezoning. “We dearly hope this is only the first step in recognizing and protecting this community’s remaining historic buildings.”

“The Empire State Dairy marks only the beginning of this incredible journey of making sure that the special places of East New York are protected,” added Then.

empire state dairy designation 2840 atlantic avenue

Completed in 1915, the group of buildings at 2840 Atlantic Avenue were designed by architects Theobald Engelhardt and Otto Strack. Part of the complex is “Abstracted Classicist with Secession detail,” according to the LPC — an unusual style for Brooklyn. Particularly noteworthy are the large tile murals depicting pastoral scenes.

[Photos by Susan De Vries]

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