Good Bones

“When Fire Station No.6 opened in 1903, firefighting was a volunteer proposition. There were five other stations in Houston but none came close to the civic statement this one made: Italianate-style architecture; brick walls; 27 truly grand windows; indoor bathrooms; hot-and-cold running water; a concrete floor; and room for bigger, better equipment. It was meant to serve a new city in a new century.

“The original team included men with family names like Martin, Dortic, Lutz, Donnelly, and Thomas, some married, with children. Whether officer, engineer, driver, or pipeman, they were known collectively as 'Rough and Ready.' They prided themselves on being the first responders to a fire – and usually were.

“Of course, ‘modern’ evolves. In 1931 the firemen of Station No. 6 moved down the street to an even more modern facility. The building at 1702 Washington Avenue remained, but with its loss of civic purpose, the glory faded. As the building passed from owner to owner, its decline wasn’t unusual in 20th-century America. The surprise is that it was still standing when I bought it.

"There is something special about Fire Station No. 6. Architects would call it ‘good bones’ and talk about ‘pride of place.’ It had that a century ago and, I’m happy to say, it has it again.”

– Tom Hair

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