The old and the new in Duluth firehalls stand across First Street from each other at Sixth Avenue West. At right is the new structure featuring fire-engine red glazed bricks on its facade. On the left is the old Fire Department headquarters, which will be razed as part of the Gateway Urban Renewal project to make way for a new main post office. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)
A little more than 45 years ago, the Duluth Fire Department moved into a new headquarters building – the same one they occupy today. The move took place in late November 1965. It was a short trip – the old headquarters building, as you can see in the photo above, was just across First Street. It dated back to 1894, and the days of horse-drawn firefighting equipment.
Here are a couple more shots of the old building:
Here’s a photo of the new (current) headquarters building while nearing completion in October 1965:
There were some glitches with the new building. Shortly before opening, fire department officials raised concerns about the floor of the garage – namely, cracks that appeared before the building was officially opened, and low spots in the floor that collected water instead of draining it away, as seen here:
Puddles of water in low spots on the floor of Duluth’s new fire department headquarters are observed by fireman Gerald Pechacek in early November 1965. The water did not drain off after the floor was hosed down. (News-Tribune file photo)
The contractor, United General Constructors, pledged to fix the floor after a meeting with city officials.
You may have noticed in the caption for the first photo that the site of the old fire headquarters, back when it was slated for demolition in late 1965, was slated to become Duluth’s new main post office. Another article referred to a “proposed $3 million Post Office building.”
Obviously, that new main post office never was built at that location; the site of the former DFD headquarters is a parking lot. I assume there must have been a change along the way that resulted in the main post office being built at its present site in the West End – Lincoln Park neighborhood.
If you have any information about that, or any stories about the old fire department headquarters, please post a comment.