“Rocking” Victorian Flatbush: Plans for H Station Rehab Include Artwork for Porch

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The long-awaited renovation of the historic train station at Avenue H will include something not often seen at Brooklyn stations: Sculpture that is not only meant for viewing, but also as a perch for passengers.

A series of seven life-size bronze rocking chairsin different sizes and finishes, is proposed to be arrayed on the station’s old-fashioned porch, in an arrangement dubbed “Brooklyn Bucolic,” by artist Ed Kopel. The work is part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Arts for Transit program, according to Andrew Inglesby, assistant director of government and community relations for New York City Transit.

Inglesby spoke about the station rehab -- and showed off a rendering of the planned artwork -- as part of an update on the Brighton Five project during the October meeting of Community Board 14’s Transportation Committee, which was held in the board office, 810 East 16th Street.

The renovation of the station building will be in line with the requirements of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which designated it in 2004 after an outpouring of community support for the venerable structure which was built as a real estate office by developer T.B. Ackerson in 1905-6, in conjunction with the construction of the homes in the new neighborhood of Fiske Terrace, which he built up.

“We’re very limited on what can be done outside,” Inglesby emphasized. “It’s going to look almost identical.” As for the interior, “We are going to modernize what we need to, to bring it up to speed.”

As for the rocking chairs, according to Lester Burg, the manager of the Arts for Transit program ,in coming up with the arrangement of rocking chairs, the artist was “Inspired by the porches of the Queen Anne and Colonial houses” in the adjacent residential community.

“It’s unique in the transit system to have a station with a porch,” he added. “We know this is a special place.”

Nonetheless, while the chairs may look like rocking chairs, they are stationary. “Because there were safety concerns and we’re the MTA, these rocking chairs will not rock,” Burg deadpanned to laughter from the assembled group.

The agency anticipates that the sculpture will attract not only commuters but area residents who may choose to “set a spell.

“In summer, it would be a nice place to meet people,” Burg offered.

Area residents seemed to agree.

“I love the chairs,” remarked Joel Berson, a former president of the Fiske Terrace Association.

“It’s going to be a lunch spot,” noted Fred Baer, another of the group’s former presidents, who asked that the TA provide a trash can with that eventuality in mind.

Updated 3:41 pm, October 19, 2011
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