Original Firehouse No2 was a wood-framed structure (above left) located on the northeast corner of Washington & Commercial. This was home to Springfield’s first non-volunteer firefighters, and the station which was the origin of today’s paid Springfield Fire Department. The original Firehouse No2 caught fire in the early 1900’s, at the turn of the last century, causing the complete loss of original structure and a need for a new fire station.
Historic Firehouse No2 was constructed in the early 1900’s, a mere 4 blocks to the west by the city, at the head of Boonville Avenue. It was built by simply constructing a front wall and a back wall between existing buildings on the northeast and northwest corners, closing Boonville Avenue to vehicular traffic over the railroad tracks just to the north. The popular “Ghost Signs” or turn of the century advertisements that can be seen (and often used a photographic backdrops) upstairs in the Studio Bridal Area and in the offices of Historic Firehouse No2 originally advertised the businesses on both sides of Boonville Avenue, so named as it was the way to Nathaniel Boone’s (son of Daniel Boone) homestead.
Another fire in 1987 completely destroyed the building next door to the east at 203-207 East Commercial. It burned to the ground, leaving only the west wall that also is the east wall of the Firehouse as all that was left standing of the building that burned down. The condition of that wall after the fire created the need to build yet another Fire Station No2, the 3rd incarnation of Fire Station No2 to be built, again to the west, almost to Grant Avenue where it stands to this day. The silver lining to this cloud was the opportunity to create a garden space where other structures had stood for over 100 years.
In 1995, Collette Parker Restoration (Mary Collette & Paul Parker, above) purchased the Historic Firehouse and the vacant lot next door. Here is what Historic Firehouse No2 looked like in 1995 when they first took possession. The structure was open to the elements and was in terrible shape both inside and outside. It had been used for storage and had been allowed to deteriorate to a shocking degree. The first step was to remove the stucco facade, a necessary step to add the Historic Firehouse No2 as a contributing structure to the Federal Register District that Historic Commercial Street had been added to in 1983, process shown below:
Paul and Mary also began work on the interior of Historic Firehouse No2. The first step was to repair rotting roof and reroof the 6,000 square foot roof to protect the interior from the elements, beginning with the upstairs:
Next, work began on (and, as with many ongoing restorations, continues to this day) on the downstairs:
Next, Mary & Paul began the arduous task of transforming the site of the Courtyard Garden, the buildings that had burned down. It is believed that these buildings were Springfield’s first Freight Depot where the arched openings that now open into the courtyard were originally where horse & buggy teams entered to pick up their freight from the trains just out back and exited onto Boonville to head north or south with their shipment. After the fire, it became the defacto stormwater detention basin for the neighborhood. Mary & Paul had their work cut out for them:
It took years of removing large rocks, bringing in mulch and topsoil and of course, lots and lots of flowers and trees to transform this “rough as a cob” space into the lovely gardens we all enjoy to this day.
Ten years after purchase and after massive restoration efforts (which continue to this day!) we became Historic Firehouse No2, a popular event venue. We consider ourselves one of the city’s most unique venues as we have maintained the industrial flavor of this 115 year old fire station and restored her preserving as much original material as possible with an eye to sustainability and minimal impact on the environment. We are fortunate to have had the opportunity to rescue this amazing building and then to be able to share it with you. We finally realized, Historic Firehouse No2 just wants to party!