Fire on Motherless Brooklyn set: firefighter dies, old St. Nick's Pub building is gutted

Updated: Jan 27


The old St. Nick's Pub on The Motherless Brooklyn set

Last night, an FDNY firefighter died while battling a blaze on the Harlem set of "Motherless Brooklyn." Two of his colleagues were seriously injured as well.

Firefighter Michael Davidson, 37, was the first to brave the flames, according to the New York Daily News. The fire started in the basement of 773 St. Nicholas Avenue, but the reasons are still unknown. The building seems to be gutted.

The old St. Nick's Pub on The Motherless Brooklyn set in Harlem

The old rowhouse was home to the former St. Nick's Pub, which was being used to shoot scenes from the movie based on the Jonathan Lethem detective novel. Set in 1950s New York, the film stars Ed Norton and Bruce Willis, among others.

Vintage cars on the set of Motherless Brooklyn in Harlem
Period storefronts on the set of Motherless Brooklyn in Harlem

For the last month, the film crew has been taking the Harlem neighborhood back in time with its period storefronts and vintage cars parked on the streets. Neighbors seemed to enjoy seeing how the production designers were using various locations to recreate a New York when bank and drugstore chains weren't on every corner; many took pictures.

The old St. Nick's Pub on The Motherless Brooklyn set in Harlem

Like them, on March 12 I captured the scene in front of the old St. Nick's Pub, where the crew had changed the name of the old jazz club to The King Rooster–a play on the legendary Harlem speakeasy The Red Rooster. So this is what the set looked like before last night's fire. My condolences go out to the firefighter's family and everyone else affected by this tragedy.

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