Behold the old becomes new. That’s the case for the eighty-year-old fire station located on the corner of Maple and 3rd Streets in Wyandotte. Renovations began on the building in January of 2018, and were completed in December of the same year; the old firehouse received a much-needed facelift.

Renovating vs. building new saved Wyandotte an estimated $1.5 million.

Built in 1939, the fire station was mostly untouched for nearly eighty years other than general maintenance to upkeep the structure. The Art Moderne building boasts a classic look–fusing the frills of Art Deco, with the clean lines of a more modern style. That’s why Thomas Roberts Architect, the firm responsible for handling the renovations, did their homework to preserve the history of the building.

But why renovate? Why not just start over? When the firm presented the master plan for renovations to Wyandotte City Council in the fall of 2017, they found that they would save the city an estimated $1.5 million as opposed to building new. MiG Construction won the contracting bid in early 2018.

The plan called for three small additions to the first floor, as well as a new kitchen and dining area, and a more inclusive environment on the second floor for male and female firefighters. They also added storage for medical supplies and a large locker room for stashing gear, which in the older layout were normally kept in apparatus bays. Where formerly there was only street parking, the team built a new entry with handicap accessibility and an adjacent public parking space. With these new additions and site modifications, the firehouse has become much more accessible and open.

The redesign also moved away from a dormitory feel on the second level. Previously, there was only a large open sleeping area and group bathroom facilities for both male and female firefighters. Now, they have four private rooms with unisex toilets, showers, and bedrooms to sleep two people. MiG Construction also built an area for the weight equipment the firefighters use to exercise and an open public space for recreation.  The original firemen’s pole between the first and second floor was restored.

One of the best features, according to architect Thomas Roberts, is the inclusion of bi-fold garage doors–a concept original to the building itself. The original bi-fold garage doors had been replaced with overhead garage doors during general maintenance, but through tireless research, Roberts’ team found they could save valuable seconds and create a safer exit point for the trucks and ambulances. Because, in the business of first response, seconds matter.

By matching the brick almost perfectly, the new additions to the firehouse blend naturally. The new windows nearly match the originals, and the Terrazzo floors were restored within the building. Upon completion, the team met their budget with contingency dollars left over, and the Wyandotte firefighters have a beautifully renovated and efficient place to work. •