When my children were three years old, Virginia Highland Fire Station #19 was the center of their universe. We drove by it every day to and from preschool to see if the fire truck was at the station or out helping people. The firemen inspected our car seats and always greeted us warmly when we stopped by on our neighborhood walk.
Now, the oldest working firehouse in the city needs our help. Since 1925, Fire Station #19 has faithfully served Virginia Highland and the surrounding community. But over time, lack of funding for maintenance has resulted in termite damage on the staircase, holes in the ceiling and standing water on the garage floor due to lack of a drain.
On a recent visit to the station, I saw the disrepair and spoke with Sgt. Ian Allum about the restoration effort he began in June 2010. Sgt. Allum worked with Kronberg Wall Architects and Planners to draw up the restoration plans, which include updating the interior and reconstructing the arch-door truck bay. The plans also preserve the unique bungalow features consistent with the neighborhood architecture.
The project cost is estimated at $500,000. “Restoration is a no-brainer when you consider that building a new station costs the city $3 million to $4 million,” explained Sgt. Allum.
Without the needed funds for the restoration project, the station will likely slip even further into disrepair. Sure, the exterior looks freshly painted, but my recent tour of the interior revealed a stark contrast. The upstairs bathroom is not insulated and the hot water heater leaks into the downstairs bathroom, so it has to be turned off and on for use. Sgt. Allum’s office is also not insulated. None of us would choose to live or work in conditions like this, so why ask this of our first responders?
Our city, our community, and our private sector partners need to step up to save this neighborhood landmark.
How You Can Help
- Make an on-line tax-deductible donation at vhfirecompany.com.
- Visit the station for merchandise.
- Join their email at the website for more updates on how you can help.