In Houston, a Fire Station's Second Life
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There's just something about fire houses that screams America. Add in a "rising from the ashes" story line and it's kind of the American preservation/restoration/rebuilding dream. Enter Fire Station No. 6 in Houston, Texas.
Built in 1903 (see "before" pictures below), No. 6 is located on Washington Avenue in Houston's Sixth Ward neighborhood - a story of regeneration in itself, but still dotted with auto lots, empty storefronts, and untended buildings. When Tom Hair, founder of communications and marketing firm Axiom, was looking to buy a property to house his growing company, he wanted a space that reflected Axiom's creativity and energy. He found it in the then-dilapidated Fire Station No. 6.
Fire station No. 6 and its crew in the early years of its operation and in 2005; Courtesy: Axiom
Before it was purchased, the building was marketed for redevelopment as either residential lofts or office space. Courtesy: Axiom
A peek inside what the old fire station looked like before it was restored. Courtesy: Axiom
Although the brick exterior was still in decent shape and structurally sound, the windows were rotten and the building needed a full roof replacement, as well as restoration work on the metal shingles and cornices.
Today, Fire Station No. 6 is a beacon for historic adaptation done right. The exterior gleams, and the interior feels fresh but still retains elements of the historic building - like a brass fire pole that's available for use by the firm's employees. The building has marks of of the past - exposed bricks, restored columns, and old photos splashed across the walls - while still accommodating the needs and styles of a modern work space.
The restored fire house, as it appears today — and with its new crew of Axiom employees. Courtesy: Pete Lacker Photography
Owner Tom Hair is rightfully proud of his work: "We have one of the few buildings that has been restored to its original presence on Washington Avenue." Kudos on a job well done, and let's hope that as the neighborhood develops, the number of restorations only continues to grow.
Below, images of the revamped firehouse, courtesy of Pete Lacker Photography.
Inside, the open floor plan was retained and most of the remaining original elements restored.
Yes, folks. The fire poles are an integral part of the design.
And a quick and easy way to move between floors.
As a nod to its past, historic photographs were used as murals in a few public spaces within the building.
An upstairs conference room and view of the original arches windows.
One room serves as both a museum of Houston fire house artifacts and a store where people can buy commemorative gear.
This post originally appeared on the National Trust for Historic Preservation blog, an Atlantic partner site.