2551 Westchester Avenue
Park: 1907; Recreation Center: 1927; Alterations: 1983, John Ciardullo

Acquired by the city through two purchases in 1907 and 1909, this park was known as Westchester Square until 1925, when it was renamed after Owen Dolen, a local educator who died after speaking at the dedication ceremony for the park’s World War I monument. Benson Street divided the two parcels of this park until 1993, at which point a portion of the street was closed and replaced with vegetation that expanded the footprint of the park. The recreation center, built in 1927, was initially designed to serve as the park’s comfort station before being converted to a branch of the New York Public Library in the 1930s. Designed with elements of the Spanish Revival style, the recreation center consists of a two-story, five-bay central building and two three-bay, one-story wings, all of which are characterized by large round arch windows and entryways. In 1982, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation hired John Ciardullo Associates to redesign the building for use as the Owen Dolen Golden Age Center, which included a new entryway with a triangular facade built of architectural concrete, as well as ample space for programming serving senior citizens.

Photo courtesy of NYC Municipal Archive.