WELLAND’S CENTRAL FIRE STATION CELEBRATES 1OOth BIRTHDAY VIRTUALLY
Find Out Below How You Can Go Online – This Coming Thursday, December 17th, 2020 – To Enjoy What This Heritage Gem Has to Offer
Niagara, Ontario – On Dec. 17, 1920, with the official opening of the Central Fire Station, firefighting and public safety in Welland rolled into the 20th Century.
A stylish and practical $43,851 fire hall, built on an easy-to-exit 45-degree angle at Hellems Avenue and Division Street, contained the latest firefighting features of the period.
For the hall’s centennial on Dec. 17, 2020, the Central Station Education Initiative (CSEI), which leases the closed fire hall from the city, had planned to hold an “at home”, a traditional fire department open house.
The Covid-19 emergency, however, made that impractical. It will be held when safe to do so during 2021.
It also will welcome your memories of the Centennial Fire Station.
CSEI leases the closed fire station from the city and is raising funds to preserve it.
When it opened in 1920, Central Fire Station, designed by architect Walter La Chance, would hold a hook-and-ladder truck, hose and chemical truck, fire chief’s car and ambulance in its first-floor engine room. Horse-drawn equipment was fading from use.
Informally the new building became known as the central fire hall. It had a control board linked to alarm boxes throughout the city. An efficient hose cleaning system included an underground washing tunnel and 70-foot drying tower. The second floor contained eight sleeping rooms, exercise room and chief’s office. The third-floor was a meeting and recreation room.
Two fire polls linked the floors to give firefighters quick access to the engine room.
CSEI believes this 100-year-old fire station is the only one surviving in Canada intact with its original 1920’s equipment, furniture and firefighting artifacts.
An incorporated not-for-profit, CSEI is raising funds to restore and to open the hall as a self-supporting community hub. It will have a free public heritage display showing how Welland’s firefighters lived and worked from 1920’s to 2005.
“If we can’t do this,” said CSEI president Nora Reid, “the City will undoubtedly sell or lease the building to business interests and dispose of the collection losing the opportunity to preserve this unique intact piece of Canadian history and to honour the history of our first responders.”
Donations can be made through the website www.centralfirehall.ca .
About The Organization – Central Station Education Initiative (CSEI) was incorporated in March of 2017 but is an outgrowth of many organizations and Committees working over the last three decades to find a way to save and transform Central Fire Station into a public heritage building. CSEI Directors have been involved in all of these committees/organizations.
More About the The Building – One of the most uniquely designed fire stations in North America, Central Fire Station was built in the Edwardian Classical style. Drawing from classical models, the architect re-purposed a Roman basilica plan to ingeniously house the various functions of firefighting in the early 20th century. Central Fire Hall is one of only three significant major heritage structures surviving in downtown Welland.
Just in case you missed it, on this coming December 17th, 2020, you can click on the Central Station Education Initiavie’s anytime during that day and all the days after, to celebrate the history of this wonderful building in our Niagara region.
A Footnote by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper –
As a native of Welland, Ontario, who has watched too much of that Welland Canal city’s heritage – the old Welland High School, the iconic Welland Club and so many others – fall into ruin, and in some cases, meet a wrecking ball or be burned down in mysterious ways, I urge all of us to do what we can to help the Central Station Education Initiative save this grand old building for all time.
We don’t have to see every grand building from our past destroyed, do we?
You might start by contacting the Mayor of Welland and his city councillors – you can find their contact information by googling the City of Welland website – and urging them to make sure this building has a heritage diesignation that lasts, and that every effort possibly be taken to protect the exterior and to re-purpose the inside of this building in ways that respects its history and dignity.
And if you can, donate to the work of the good group working to protect and preserve this building.
Seems to me like one wonderful way of paying tribute to generations of our first responders.
Doug Draper, Niagara At Large
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