The Major Owens Center represents a vision for the future of Crown Heights while honoring the rich history of its past. Each space inside is named for an influential member of the Brooklyn community, and all the building’s interiors and exteriors have been carefully renovated to preserve as much of the Armory’s original architecture as possible.

Major r. Owens

Major R. Owens served as a US Representative for New York’s 11th (now 12th) Congressional District for more than 24 years. A former librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library, Owens would be known in the US House of Representatives as “The Librarian in Congress.”

After winning election in 1983, he built his political reputation advocating for public libraries and school libraries, and was instrumental in the passing of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. Owens would serve in Congress until 2007, when when he retired at the end of his term.

Carey Gabay

The recreation center is named for Carey Gabay, a lawyer, Harvard graduate, and aide to the Governor of New York who tragically lost his life in the crossfire of a 2015 shooting.

Today, the Carey Gabay Foundation works tirelessly to carry on his legacy by providing education opportunities, victim services, community wellness outreach, and advocating for gun violence prevention in our communities.

Betty Carter

A true legend in the golden era of jazz, Betty Carter broke through as an era-defining vocalist in the 1940s, launching a career of recording and performing that would continue into the 1990s.

She earned countless awards and honors, including the National Medal of Arts in 1997, and has shared some of the world’s largest stages with a roster of jazz legends including Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Miles Davis, Ray Charles and many, many more.


Originally built in 1903, the former Bedford Union Armory served as a dirt-floored training facility
and stable for the Army National Guard’s horseback units. After sitting abandoned for decades, redevelopment began in 2015 with the goal of creating valuable community space while preserving
as much of the building’s irreplaceable, century-old architecture as possible.