In 2007, MNN committed to expand its community media services and identified the East 104th Street Firehouse as a potential site for this purpose. After conducting an extensive architectural, engineering and environmental assessment of the Firehouse, MNN decided to purchase it. The historic building constructed in 1883 achieved landmark status, and MNN began a total renovation.
By the end of 2011, the old Firehouse was successfully transformed into a state-of-art production and broadcast facility housing three studios, several editing suites, a classroom, and a community meeting space.
MNN continues the journey to create the community media center envisioned as a place of education and learning, creativity and inspiration, collaboration and action. With outreach to neighborhood residents, activists, artists, and producers, the MNN El Barrio Firehouse Community Media Center is in the process of developing educational programs, community activities, and trainings to certify MNN Firehouse producers.
Community Studio Dialogues
In January, the MNN El Barrio Firehouse launched the Community Studio Dialogues to bring together activists, artists, authors, and media producers to discuss contemporary media and social justice issues. Hosted in the George C. Stoney Community Studio, the series encourages sharing of knowledge, resources and Collaboration.
The inaugural event in February featured journalist and co-author of News for All the People, Juan Gonzalez, and hip hop performance artist, Bryonn Bain discussing Racism in the US Media.
In March, Esther Armah, Magdalena Gomez, Jessica Green, and Elisha Miranda media activists and artists presented their varied media work in radio, television, print, theater, film and the Internet.In April, the Dialogue was about the GASODUCTO, the 93-mile gas pipeline proposed for Puerto Rico.
At the Firehouse, Youth Peer Trainers work with high school students and interns to produce programming for a 10-hour Youth Channel block that is cablecast on MNN. Youth receive production and editing training. To learn more, visit the youth section of the website.
Community Builders Pilot TrainingMNN launched the Community Builders Training in February as a pilot program for persons interested in producing community programming. The two-month intensive course provides basic camera and editing knowledge. Upon completion, participants will become certified MNN El Barrio Firehouse Community Media Center field producers.
History of the East 104th Street Firehouse
The Firehouse has an interesting history that dates back to the 1800s. Designed by Napoleon Le Brun & Sons, the official New York City Fire Department architects, the Fire Department purchased the lot on 104th Street for $5,500 in May 1883, and Engine 53 moved into the brand new building on January 15, 1885.
The basement was used for coal storage and a workshop. The street level floor was roughed in squares to give the horses traction. The hose tower, which looks from the front as if it were another full floor at the top of the building, had a water tank for spare supply, hay and grain storage for the horses. In February, 1893, the building had hot water and an indoor toilet added. Horses were used as late as 1922, and at about that time a cement floors was poured at street level to accommodate the "horseless" carriages and pumpers.
In 1972, Engine 53 moved to Third Avenue and 102nd Street. A year later, El Museo del Barrio began renting the building making gradual improvements and purchased it at public auction from the City of New York in May 1980.