The city is offering for sale a 110-year-old firehouse in the East End neighborhood that once housed a horse-drawn hose wagon.
The price? Cheap, but with conditions.
Rather than setting a price for the property the city retired from service in 2013, officials are asking prospective buyers what they would do with the historic building, and how much they would promise to invest in its rehabilitation. An out-of-the-ordinary home? A business? Both?
“I think it could be a really great home,” said Mallory Greenham, assistant to the city manager and a small-business specialist. “Owner-occupied, could maybe be an apartment or two. There’s even an opportunity to put commercial on the first floor and live above.
“It is a beautiful, historic firehouse with a lot of history.”
Hamilton is looking to sell a number of properties this year. On the same day it recently requested proposals for the Shuler Avenue station, it also requested similar proposals for the former Ritzi Body Shop on Main Street, where they hope someone will develop a restaurant or trendy bar.
“I think it is an awesome idea,” said Kathy Stubblefield, an active member of the East End neighborhood, about offering the fire station for sale. “Anything that has a history to it, I would prefer it not get wasted.”
Stubblefield would love to see a restaurant created in the building that would keep the flavor of the building’s history, but can’t see such a business thriving in the hardscrabble residential neighborhood, she said. Whatever the purpose, a well-maintained version of the building, and one that is occupied, would help uplift the East End, she said.
“A very handsome building,” said Margo Warminski, preservation director at the Cincinnati Preservation Association, said. “I like that two-toned brick and the varied kind of brickwork. And the tower is set back so it’s not so obvious.”
The front of the building “is something I’ve never seen in a firehouse,” she said. It reminds her of the ‘American Foursquare’ style of house architecture that was popular before and after the start of the 20th century. “It looks like the architect borrowed that style to use in his firehouse. He wanted it to fit in with the buildings around it.”
She noted the “Guide to Cincinnati’s Historic Fire Houses,” put together by the Cincinnati Fire Museum, “says there are 31 historic fire houses still standing all over Cincinnati, and a lot of them have been reused for new uses, because they’ve got a lot of things going for them.”
“They tend to fit in with the neighborhood architecture around them,” she said. “They’re very well-built, because they’re intended to last a long time, because they get hard use, and there’s lots of different styles.”
According to a history the Lane Public Library provided the city, “Hamilton Fire Department Hose Company No. 7, known as ‘the Sevens’” entered service July 15, 1911, and a month later, on Aug. 18 at 11:20 p.m., Company 7 fought its first fire, with another company, at a house at 111 Kahn Ave. The history lists John Stein as the captain of the station, which later was renamed 27, while the “hosemen” were Cassius Durrough, Walter Graham and William Conlin.
People interested in making the purchase must put together paperwork and submit it by noon on Feb. 26.
“We released an RFP (request for proposals) for this about a year ago, and we didn’t get too many people walking through,” Greenham said. “We’re hoping that the new year will bring more people out.”