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Photo by Melissa Romero

9 converted historic firehouses in Philly, mapped

Today’s museums, restaurants, and apartment buildings had a fiery past

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William Penn knew all too well how quickly a city could go up in flames. He lived through London’s Great Fire of 1666, and vowed that no similar catastrophe would plague his new city of Philadelphia. The orderly urban grid and wide streets that Penn planned in 1683 were steps taken to avoid the spread of fire in an era with slow-moving firefighting equipment, and labor-intensive access to water.

Nevertheless, fires still blazed, and so in 1736 Benjamin Franklin co-founded the Union Fire Company, Philly’s first volunteer fire department. Volunteer companies such as Franklin’s (of which there were around 70 by the mid-19th century) were the norm until the city created a professional municipal fire department in 1871.

Modern-day firefighting equipment can’t fit into most historic (and small-scale) firehouses, which were built to house specialized horse-drawn carriages and leather buckets. And so the majority of Philadelphia’s firehouses built before 1950 have been demolished.

But a few remain, and if you pay close attention you might notice that some of the city’s luxury condominiums, bars, nonprofit institutions, and museums have a fiery past.

Know of another converted firehouse that’s not on the map? Let us know in the comments or send us a tip.

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1. Dock Street Brewery

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701 S 50th St
Philadelphia, PA 19143
(215) 726-2337
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There's a number 34 trolley stop just a few steps from Dock Street Brewery on Baltimore Avenue in Cedar Park, making it a convenient location for both the modern-day patrons who have had one too many and the firefighters who originally inhabited 701 South 50th Street. Built in the early 1900s, this three-story brick and masonry beauty was purposefully placed near the streetcar line whose electric sparks often ignited fires.

The building served as a firehouse until 1984 (when Engine 68 relocated a few blocks west), and has since seen a few different evolutions. In the late 1980s it was the Firehouse Farmers' Market, then sat vacant for a few years in the late nineties. In 2007 it became home to Dock Street Brewery, a local microbrewery. If the wood burning oven that the brewery uses to make its pizzas starts causing any trouble, they know who to call.

via Flickr/temporarySPASTIC

2. 717 S 20th St

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717 S 20th St
Philadelphia, PA 19146

Situated on a quiet Graduate Hospital corner at 20th and Pemberton Streets, this brick and masonry two-story firehouse built in 1871 was home to the Ladder 5 Company for a short 15 years before the crew relocated to a nearby station on 16th Street. 

It’s now a multi-family 2,200 square-foot residence with two bathrooms, and original exterior details that include bricks set in Flemish bond pattern. 

via Google Streetview

3. Jack’s Firehouse Restaurant

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2130 Fairmount Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19130

When it was built and opened in 1871, the Truck A Fire Department housed a four-wheeled horse carriage, 350 feet of leather hose, and roughly 7,500 pounds of equipment. The original brass fire pole and much of the original mahogany interiors remain, but 2130 Fairmount Avenue is now equipped with a full bar and restaurant servicing diners at Jack’s Firehouse Restaurant.

The two-story brick firehouse closed in 1954 when the Ladder 1 Company (which eventually occupied space) merged with a nearby fire station at 1541 Parrish Street. 

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4. Ladder 15

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1528 Sansom St
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Prominent lettering beneath the cornice of this late 19th-century firehouse still reads “PHILADELPHIA FIRE STATION,” but the lettering on the property deeds has changed. Once the headquarters of the Engine 4 Company, 1528 Sansom Street is now Ladder 15, a Rittenhouse area bar with a heated happy hour scene. 

Unlike many other converted firehouses whose facades have remained untouched, the brick and masonry exterior has been painted black to accentuate the bar’s industrial décor. Ladder 15’s interiors boast 35 foot ceilings, stone walls, and fireplaces.

5. 730 Broad Street

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730 Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146

An impressive vestige of the city’s early volunteer fire companies, the firehouse of Franklin Hose Company No. 28 was built in 1849 and is attributed to architect Samuel Sloan. The national landmark building had a brief stint as a firehouse before the established of the municipal fire department in 1871, and then saw a variety of adaptive reuses. 

Once a starch company, then a warehouse, the firehouse has been owned by Brandywine Workshop since the early 1990s who have used it to create and display their multicultural print collection. Brandywine Workshop is currently nearing completion on interior renovation work that will transform the upper two floors of the firehouse into separate 1,700 square-foot and 1,800 square foot rental apartments.

6. 1016 South St

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1016 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Before the Philadelphia Fire Department officially desegregated white and black firefighters, Engine Company 11 at 1016 South Street (next door to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens) was the city’s first and only all African-American fire company. Built in 1902 and designed by Philip H. Johnson, the company closed its firefighting doors 50 years later. 

It was later converted into the Willie G. Williams Community Center, where it was once home to Opportunity, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provided construction training classes to homeless men in an attempt “to extinguish the burning social fires through change agency.”

The nearly 13,000 square-foot, three-story building is now owned by Water’s Memorial African Methodist Church. 

Photo by Melissa Romero

7. The Stationhouse Condominiums

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323 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

The Stationhouse Condominiums in Old City once housed the Ladder 2 Station, from 1925 until 1968 (when the Engine 8 company relocated to a nearby station). The three-story building has since been converted into a condominium building, with a total of 13 units ranging in size from 1050 to 3300 square-feet. 

Large original windows allow for plenty of natural light in these condominiums with open floor plans, high ceilings, and high-end details such as granite countertops, and hardwood floors.

via Google Streetview

8. Engine 46 Firehouse

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1401 S Water St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

This turreted, Flemish Revival firehouse designed by distinguished architect, John T. Windrim, and built in 1894 seems out of place in its current Pennsport surroundings – next door to an IMAX movie theater, and across from the Delaware Expressway. It is a rare example of distinctive architecture in an area crowded with big box stores and parking lots. 

Since the station was abandoned in the 1960s, it has been used as an auto mechanic shop and then a steakhouse, but it has been vacant since 2006 and demolition permits were issued to a developer both in 2013 and 2015. Preservationists intervened, and the building up for consideration for historic designation—and empty and waiting for its next reincarnation. 

Courtesy of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia

9. Fireman’s Hall Museum

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147 N 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

A short block away from Elfreth’s Alley stands the Fireman’s Hall Museum in a historic 1902 firehouse, once home to the Engine 8 Company before they relocated in 1952. Exhibits at the free admission museum cover the history of local firefighting, from the days of Benjamin Franklin’s early volunteer companies, through segregated firehouses and up until a commemoration of 9/11. 

Unlike many other converted firehouses, this one still has boots and fire coats (which visitors are encouraged to try on).

Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia

1. Dock Street Brewery

701 S 50th St, Philadelphia, PA 19143
via Flickr/temporarySPASTIC

There's a number 34 trolley stop just a few steps from Dock Street Brewery on Baltimore Avenue in Cedar Park, making it a convenient location for both the modern-day patrons who have had one too many and the firefighters who originally inhabited 701 South 50th Street. Built in the early 1900s, this three-story brick and masonry beauty was purposefully placed near the streetcar line whose electric sparks often ignited fires.

The building served as a firehouse until 1984 (when Engine 68 relocated a few blocks west), and has since seen a few different evolutions. In the late 1980s it was the Firehouse Farmers' Market, then sat vacant for a few years in the late nineties. In 2007 it became home to Dock Street Brewery, a local microbrewery. If the wood burning oven that the brewery uses to make its pizzas starts causing any trouble, they know who to call.

701 S 50th St
Philadelphia, PA 19143

2. 717 S 20th St

717 S 20th St, Philadelphia, PA 19146
via Google Streetview

Situated on a quiet Graduate Hospital corner at 20th and Pemberton Streets, this brick and masonry two-story firehouse built in 1871 was home to the Ladder 5 Company for a short 15 years before the crew relocated to a nearby station on 16th Street. 

It’s now a multi-family 2,200 square-foot residence with two bathrooms, and original exterior details that include bricks set in Flemish bond pattern. 

717 S 20th St
Philadelphia, PA 19146

3. Jack’s Firehouse Restaurant

2130 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19130

When it was built and opened in 1871, the Truck A Fire Department housed a four-wheeled horse carriage, 350 feet of leather hose, and roughly 7,500 pounds of equipment. The original brass fire pole and much of the original mahogany interiors remain, but 2130 Fairmount Avenue is now equipped with a full bar and restaurant servicing diners at Jack’s Firehouse Restaurant.

The two-story brick firehouse closed in 1954 when the Ladder 1 Company (which eventually occupied space) merged with a nearby fire station at 1541 Parrish Street. 

2130 Fairmount Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19130

4. Ladder 15

1528 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19102

Prominent lettering beneath the cornice of this late 19th-century firehouse still reads “PHILADELPHIA FIRE STATION,” but the lettering on the property deeds has changed. Once the headquarters of the Engine 4 Company, 1528 Sansom Street is now Ladder 15, a Rittenhouse area bar with a heated happy hour scene. 

Unlike many other converted firehouses whose facades have remained untouched, the brick and masonry exterior has been painted black to accentuate the bar’s industrial décor. Ladder 15’s interiors boast 35 foot ceilings, stone walls, and fireplaces.

1528 Sansom St
Philadelphia, PA 19102

5. 730 Broad Street

730 Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146

An impressive vestige of the city’s early volunteer fire companies, the firehouse of Franklin Hose Company No. 28 was built in 1849 and is attributed to architect Samuel Sloan. The national landmark building had a brief stint as a firehouse before the established of the municipal fire department in 1871, and then saw a variety of adaptive reuses. 

Once a starch company, then a warehouse, the firehouse has been owned by Brandywine Workshop since the early 1990s who have used it to create and display their multicultural print collection. Brandywine Workshop is currently nearing completion on interior renovation work that will transform the upper two floors of the firehouse into separate 1,700 square-foot and 1,800 square foot rental apartments.

730 Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146

6. 1016 South St

1016 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Photo by Melissa Romero

Before the Philadelphia Fire Department officially desegregated white and black firefighters, Engine Company 11 at 1016 South Street (next door to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens) was the city’s first and only all African-American fire company. Built in 1902 and designed by Philip H. Johnson, the company closed its firefighting doors 50 years later. 

It was later converted into the Willie G. Williams Community Center, where it was once home to Opportunity, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provided construction training classes to homeless men in an attempt “to extinguish the burning social fires through change agency.”

The nearly 13,000 square-foot, three-story building is now owned by Water’s Memorial African Methodist Church. 

1016 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

7. The Stationhouse Condominiums

323 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
via Google Streetview

The Stationhouse Condominiums in Old City once housed the Ladder 2 Station, from 1925 until 1968 (when the Engine 8 company relocated to a nearby station). The three-story building has since been converted into a condominium building, with a total of 13 units ranging in size from 1050 to 3300 square-feet. 

Large original windows allow for plenty of natural light in these condominiums with open floor plans, high ceilings, and high-end details such as granite countertops, and hardwood floors.

323 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

8. Engine 46 Firehouse

1401 S Water St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Courtesy of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia

This turreted, Flemish Revival firehouse designed by distinguished architect, John T. Windrim, and built in 1894 seems out of place in its current Pennsport surroundings – next door to an IMAX movie theater, and across from the Delaware Expressway. It is a rare example of distinctive architecture in an area crowded with big box stores and parking lots. 

Since the station was abandoned in the 1960s, it has been used as an auto mechanic shop and then a steakhouse, but it has been vacant since 2006 and demolition permits were issued to a developer both in 2013 and 2015. Preservationists intervened, and the building up for consideration for historic designation—and empty and waiting for its next reincarnation. 

1401 S Water St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

9. Fireman’s Hall Museum

147 N 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Photo by G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia

A short block away from Elfreth’s Alley stands the Fireman’s Hall Museum in a historic 1902 firehouse, once home to the Engine 8 Company before they relocated in 1952. Exhibits at the free admission museum cover the history of local firefighting, from the days of Benjamin Franklin’s early volunteer companies, through segregated firehouses and up until a commemoration of 9/11. 

Unlike many other converted firehouses, this one still has boots and fire coats (which visitors are encouraged to try on).

147 N 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA 19106