Location: Fourth Avenue and President Street, Brooklyn, NY
Landmark Status: NYC Individual Landmark; National Register of Historic Places
Original Architect: Raymond F. Almirall
Date of Construction: 1910
Date of Restoration: 2015-2017
Scope of Work: Terra Cotta Repair & Replacement, Parapet Reconstruction, Masonry Restoration & Cleaning, Structural Steel Repair, Window & Door Replacement
Awards: Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award (New York Landmarks Conservancy), Ortner Award for Excellence in Exterior Restoration (Park Slope Civic Council)
Public Bath No. 7, located in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood, underwent an extensive restoration after years of neglect and deferred maintenance. Between 2015 and 2017, the project team worked to rehabilitate the building by stabilizing the structure, restoring the exterior façade, and preserving the character-defining historic elements of the landmark building.
Designed by architect Raymond F. Almirall and completed in 1910, Public Bath No. 7 was one of the last bath houses built in New York City. At the time of its construction, it was described as the most ornate of the Brooklyn public baths, and the first to include a swimming pool. During the WPA era in the 1930s, the building was renovated and reopened as a gymnasium. It remained in that use until it was closed in the 1950s. After remaining vacant for several decades, the building was reimagined in the 1990s as the Brooklyn Lyceum, an unconventional performance arts and cultural center, though the exterior continued to deteriorate.
By the time the project began in 2015, the building’s structural steel showed extensive deterioration; the parapet had shifted several inches out of plumb and plants were growing out of large cracks in the top of the terra cotta cornice; the remaining historic windows were severely deteriorated and other door and window openings had been boarded up or infilled; and the limestone and terra cotta at the base of the building was in poor condition and covered in layers of paint and graffiti.
WBMA with Walter B. Melvin Architects, LLC designed and oversaw the restoration of the Bath House, which included replacement and reinforcement of structural steel, parapet reconstruction, terra cotta repair and replacement with cast stone and GFRC to match original, cleaning and graffiti removal, application of a mineral coating at the base of the building, replacement wood windows to match the 1930s fenestration, and new entry door and window assemblies to accommodate modern use and accessibility. The restoration of Public Bath No. 7 continues its long, heathcentered legacy as the new home of Blink Fitness.