Fire Station #1 (first)

35.995846, -78.899681

Cross Street
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Year demolished
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The home of the "Golden Belt Hose Company", a primarily volunteer firefighting squad, was constructed at the intersection of Holloway and Mangum Streets in 1891 on land adjacent to the E.J. Parrish tobacco warehouse. It was designed by Samuel L. Leary, had an electric alarm system, and an 829 pound bell in its tower, cast in Baltimore. 

Fire Station #1, probably around 1900.
(Courtesy University of North Carolina Library)

Fire Chief Dennis Christian in front of the Fire Station.
(Courtesy Duke RMBC - Wyatt Dixon Collection)

By the 1910s, the Mangum St. side of the building had been remodeled with large doorways to allow motorized trucks to move in and out of the station.

Above, the Italianate Fire Station around 1910, and Company #1 demonstrating their motorized equipment, which was replacing horse-drawn equipment that was not fully phased out until 1918.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

Above, the Sanborn map from 1893, showing the fire department at the intersection of Mangum and Holloway. (spelled "Hollaway" here)

Below, an earlier view, from around 1905, looking east from the newly constructed Trust Building. Parrish St. is to the left, and the towers of First Baptist Church, Fire Station #1 (with its weathervane and windsock), and Trinity Methodist Church in the background. The Parrish warehouse is the low brick structure to the right of the Fire station (it looks a bit strange - I think two pictures were imperfectly spliced.)

(Courtesy Duke Archives)

The fire company in 1922. Commercial structures along Holloway to the left and the back of commercial structures facing Parrish St. are to the right.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

Below, a view from the same era, showing the Rogers Drug Co. and First Baptist Church.

In 1924, the original fire station was torn down, and a new one designed by Milburan and Heister was constructed on the same spot.

Milburn and Heister rendering of the new station.
(Courtesy Duke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection - Wyatt Dixon Collection)

Below, the view looking northwest over the buildings on Parrish St., with the First Baptist Church on the left. The foundation and first-floor walls are in place of the new building.

(Courtesy Duke Archives)

The new fire station bore some resemblance to the original, but reflected a more typical 1920s appearance, with Craftsman-style elements such as exposed rafter tails as well as multipane windows and doors. The doors were still side-hinged (swinging outward).

(Courtesy Durham County Library)

By 1960, the doors had been replaced with roll-up rather than swing-out doors.

(Courtesy Durham County Library)

Fire engine exiting station #1, looking north, 09.20.54
(Courtesy the Herald-Sun Newspaper)

Below, an aerial view from the early 1960s showing Fire Station #1 in context.

By 1964, a new fire station #1 was built at Cleveland and Morgan Sts. and this fire station was left empty. It was purchased and converted into offices in 1969 by Gerard Tempest, who had earlier built The Villa in Chapel Hill out of parts of Harwood Hall and Four Acres.

The old station under renovation, 02.14.69
(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

Which it remained through the later decades of the 20th century.

Former fire station #1, 1980s.
(Courtesy Durham County Library)

This is another Greenfire property, in the midst of renovation during 2007-2008 in conjunction with 107 East Parrish St. and the Rogers drugstore.

Looking east, 2007.


Allen Wilcox, a longtime family friend and downtown booster, recently showed me up close some of what Greenfire is doing. On the early shots, if you look under the eaves, you can see carved struts underneath all of the awnings. All of those struts still exist -- they've just been covered up by the metal facia that's currently there. Greenfire is doing the right thing, and removing the metal facia plates, sanding and repainting the old struts, and replacing rotten ones with matches.

Hope springs eternal...


Thanks for adding that - those are the "exposed rafter tails" that I referred to mid-post. I did see that Greenfire is restoring those to the original. If they put back the big doors on the front, that would be really cool.


This past Saturday (3 November 2007) Joe Lemanski of Greenfire offered a tour of the Rogers Alley buildings. He confirmed that they will install similar garage doors on the front of the firehouse, but that the doors would be locked in place and not swing out. A useable front door (11-feet tall) will be created inside one of the garage door frames.

Additionally, they've tried to remove the stucco, but have been unable to remove it without damaging the original red bricks underneath. So the stucco stays.

Also, this space will house a restaurant, although NOT Dos Perros, as I had previously thought. Dos Perros will be located in the northern end of the old Rogers Drugstore, aside Preservation Durham. You probably already knew that, though, Gary. :-)

Joe was not at liberty to disclose the name of the new restaurant nor its cuisine.

Another point of interest: he said that the firehouse roof stradles the Cape Fear AND Neuse River basins. Funny, I never thought of this property being on the ridgeline. I checked the City topo lines, though, and sho' nuf. And looks like Trinity UMC sits on the highest point of downtown -- as if I should be surprised.


Looks like new pizza place run by the owner of Bull City Burgers is coming to this site. From today's Herald-Sun
"Pompieri Pizza update: A new restaurant called Pompieri Pizza has signed a lease for a space downtown.

The restaurant will be the second eatery opened by Seth Gross, who also owns the downtown restaurant and brewery Bull City Burger and Brewery.

The lease was signed last week, according to an email from Paul Smith, managing partner of the downtown property owner and developer Greenfire Development.

According to the website for the new restaurant, Pompieri Pizza is planned in the historic building known as Fire Station No. 1 at Rogers Alley.

Recently, the venture fund Intersouth Partners announced it was moving into office space on the second floor of the Fire Station No. 1 building, which was restored by Greenfire in 2007.

The Fire Station building, at 102 City Hall Plaza, was originally built around 1890 and was, at one time, the home of the Golden Belt Hose Co.’s primarily volunteer firefighters, according to the announcement. It was rebuilt in 1924, designed for the city’s professional fire department."

Thanks Eagle - to clarify the Herald's confusing verbiage about the history of the building: the original fire station, the subject of this post, was built in 1891 and demolished in 1924. A new fire station #1, profiled here, was built on the same site in 1924. This second building remained standing after the third fire station #1 was built on Morgan St. in 1964 and the fire department relocated.



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