It was 1987.
As the city of Norwood tightened its belt to meet budgetary requirements, the fire fighters stationed at the Norwood Fire Company No. 2 building closed up shop, turned off the lights, and relocated to a more modern firehouse. The fire department was being consolidated, and the old 1914 building at the corner of Montgomery Road and Ivanhoe Avenue was shuttered.
For almost 30 years, it sat empty -- a ghost of a place.
Then, after all those years, a generous donor offered to revive it. Money was set aside for a full restoration effort, and work began to bring back the nearly 100-year-old engine house.
REIGNITING THE FIRE
The renovation started by determining what actually changed from the original build. After old photos were compared, painstaking work was done to recreate and restore key features of the building. Those curved windows on the front of the building and the carriage doors you see today are historically-accurate recreations.
Decorative trim and ceiling components, which had either eroded over time or were missing entirely, were researched and recreated, as well. The callbox area, with its original street address register and an old chair, sits in one of the front corners of the first floor like a still-life exhibit in a museum.
A new bathroom designed to mimic the style of the period was added to the first floor and an upstairs kitchenette designed to match the room was installed. And while original features like the hose hanging equipment aren’t totally visible without climbing a ladder, they’re still intact.
STARTING THE ENGINE
But the biggest addition to the building, and arguably the thing most people notice when they walk in, isn’t even an architectural detail. It’s the 97-year-old fire engine sitting in the middle of the room on the first floor.
The old Norwood fire engine was built locally by Ahrens-Fox in 1920, and it saw regular use until the 1950s when it was finally retired. The engine still features the original equipment from when it was in use.
Honestly, whatever I say here isn’t going to do it justice, so you should probably just go have a look at the photo gallery above to understand how cool this piece of old machinery, and the building itself, truly is.
To see the Norwood Fire Company No. 2 building for yourself, head to 3901 Montgomery Rd, Norwood, OH 45212.