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Firehouse for Sale
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Photo: Juan Sole
Structures in cities often have second, third, or even fourth lives, depending on how their square footage is used. Case in point:  the historic Fire Station No. 1 located in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, at 8131 Georgia Avenue.

Now that a “sleek, state-of-the-art fire station” is being constructed across the street, “the Silver Spring Volunteer Fire Department will decide who gets the property,” according to the Washington Post in an article published September 17, 2006. “Its president, Kenneth L. Heltzel, said the department is waiting for a buyer who will offer the right price and the right concept. ‘We’re in no hurry. . . .We’re not having a fire sale here’.

“Ideas for the firehouse, which was built in 1914 and doubled as a National Guard armory until 1927, include a restaurant and brewery, art galleries, and office space. . . .

“Hetzel said the firefighters want a buyer who will keep the original building, which is listed in Montgomery County’s Locational Atlas and Index of Historic Sites. He said he preferred a restaurant or a brew pub. He said none of the offers so far have met his expectations for price and use of the building.

Significant Renovation Would Be Needed

“Anyone buying the property for retail use would be faced with a significant renovation project. The four electric doors fronting on Georgia Avenue open to the garage, which has high ceilings, concrete floors and a fire pole from the second floor. Behind that is a lounge and a kitchen.

“The second floor has a 1960s look to it, with brown carpeting and bare drywall where the firefighters’ bunk beds used to be.

“The 6,000-square-foot property is zoned for central business district use, permitting commercial or residential use, or both. Because of the historic designation, any major changes or demolition would be subject to scrutiny by the county Historic Preservation Commission.”

 By the way, the minimum bid for this historic firehouse is $2.5 million.

Look around your community. What creative use has been made of historic properties that have eased to fulfill their original function? What must it be like to take an abandoned building and re-create it into a new space? Finding such properties fires my imagination!

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