How the firehouse got to us

The third most popular question we are asked when someone finds out we own and live in a firehouse is “What’s the history of the building?” The most popular question  remains “Does it have a fire pole?” (It does.) That’s usually followed by an inquiry is about our heating/cooling bills. (Which I touched on here.)

We’ve been piecing together the history of this place ever since we fell in love with it. Here’s what we’ve learned.

firehouse history

We’re still on the hunt for more info. We would love to get our hands on the blueprints or some old pictures. Supposedly there’s a St Louis fire fighters museum, but we’ve heard mixed reviews about the contents. Have you ever tried to dig up facts on your house? Any tips?

15 comments
  1. You might connect with the City more if you haven’t already. They likely have some old photos in a forgotten box, but if they know someone loves their own building, you might find a friend who will keep you in mind if they come across something. Check with the Building/Development Department for old blue prints. Especially as a City-owned building, they should have something. Again, who knows how easy it is to get to, though. You might also try to find some of the FD old-timers. I’ve found the Fire Departments can sometimes become…shall we say…retiree social clubs. They might know someone who actually worked there for a short time, or be able to connect you with a bit more of the history. Definitely check out the museum…even if it isn’t the best tourist attraction, I mean, you bought a fire house!

    1. Thanks for the ideas. We’ve thought about engaging the city, but didn’t know exactly where to start. The St Louis city website isn’t exactly user friendly. We’ll look into those departments.

      I know, I know. We should go to the museum. The biggest problem is that it’s open just a few hours on weekdays.

  2. Hey Heather! My house in South City was built in 1926. I was curious about who lived in the house so I did some research on ancestry.com and looked at the 1930 census (looking into the 1940 census next). I was able to find out the names, ages, occupations, etc. of the people who lived in my house. Very cool!

    1. Ooh! Good idea, Erin!

  3. Awesome! Thanks for sharing as I was curious about the details. So neat to have such a cool history and makes for a good story 🙂

    1. It’s been fun to piece together!

  4. Not relevant directly to your hunt, but this site is pretty neat: http://www.shorpy.com . At our old house we were able to find a photo of the main street of our town (not our house, but from the same time period) which was really fun to see. Especially when you can easily compare things to google maps to see how much things have changed. I wonder if you have an old local library? Sometimes they have neighborhood info, or other such details. Plus, if you can find an old librarian you’ll be in for a treat – they remember EVERYTHING! (My dad is a librarian, and he recalls so much it’s frightening.)

    1. Very interesting site. I did some internet digging and found a site with old St Louis pics, but it didn’t have anything from our neighborhood. A local library is a good thought!

  5. So cool to know the history of such a terrific space! I am fascinated that all of the African American firefighters were assigned to one firehouse. Am I surprised in 1930ish St. Louis? No. It is the way things were there and then. But still…unbelievable.

    1. It’s definitely an interesting note. It’s crazy to think how much times have changes in a relatively short amount of time.

  6. Love finding out the history! It sounds like so many people forgot about or gave up on such a beautiful space. So glad to see you breathing life back into it 🙂

    1. Thanks, Caroline!

  7. Have you contacted Toby Weiss, the writer of B.E.L.T. (http://www.beltstl.com/)? I used to read that blog when i was still considering relocating to St. Louis a few years ago. The blog covers vanishing St. louis architecture and while it may not have information on this building she(?) probably knows loads of people who might.

    Another site:
    http://builtstlouis.blogspot.com/

    1. No we haven’t, but those are good suggestions! Thank you!

  8. […] has an attached bathroom, which can never be a bathroom again. Let me explain. At some point in the firehouse’s long history, someone decided to cement the pipes in this space. We don’t think it’s worth the time […]

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