Durham Former Firehouses

See more photos

The first fire equipment purchased by town officials was a pair of ladders and a half dozen chains authorized in 1871. Durham's first fire company was formed in 1876, when a meeting was held by citizens for the purpose of organizing a fire department. By 1880, the Durham Fire Company consisted of Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 and Bucket Company No. 1.
Subsequent decades saw the addition of chemical wagons, hose wagons, and horses. The first steam engine was purchased in 1903 and the first motor truck was placed in service in 1915. The Durham Fire Department was fully-paid at that point, having reorganized as a career department six years earlier.
Durham's first fire station was erected in 1890, a two-story, red-brick structure built on the southeast corner of Mangum and Holloway streets. Rebuilt in 1922, the engine house still stands, along with other former fire department structures that trace the history of the Durham Fire Department.

Old Fire Station 1
212 N. Mangum Street
Built 1890 / Closed 1965
Presently a restaurant

Built in 1890 at the corner of Mangum and Holloway Streets, the original Station 1 was rebuilt in 1922. Changes to the remodeled structure included moving the 829-pound alarm bell and its tower from the rear to the front of the building.

In 1965, a new Station 1 was completed at 139 East Morgan Street. The old fire bell was also moved and is displayed outside the main entrance.

The 6,974 square-foot historic structure served as an office building for decades, and was remodeled as a restaurant in 2009.


Old Fire Station 3
103 S. Driver Street
Built 1953 / Closed 1998
Presently Public Works facility

The two-bay brick structure at the corner of South Driver and East Main Streets replaced the original Station 3, built in 1911 in the 500 block of East Main Street.

In 1998, both Engine 3 and Engine 8 relocated to a new Station 3 at 822 North Miami Boulevard. The 2,380 square-foot structure is presently a Public Works facility.


Old Fire Station 4
1801 Fayetteville Street
Built 1958 / Closed 1999
Presently campus police station

Replacing a 1926 building at the northeast corner of McMannan and Cobb streets, Station 4 was first staffed by an all African-American crew.

The ten men were Durham's first black firefighters since the volunteer Excelsior Hook and Ladder Company of the early 1880s.

In 1999, Engine 4 relocated to a new station at 1818 Riddle Road. Their 1,088 square-foot old engine house is presently used by North Carolina Central University, which remodeled the building for its police department.


Old Fire Station 8
2725 Holloway Street
Built 1980 / Closed 1998
Presently EMS station

Station 8 was built as a Public Safety station during the period that the city combined the positions of police officer and firefighter. Started in 1970, the controversial Public Safety program ended in 1985.

In 1998, both Engine 8 and Engine 3 relocated to a new Station 3 at 822 North Miami Boulevard. In 2005, a new Station 8 opened at 225 Lick Creek Drive near the Grove Park subdivision.

The 1,184 square-foot former station is presently used by Durham County Emergency Medical Services.


Old Training Tower
501 Washington Street
Built 1926 / Closed early 1970s
Presently unoccupied

Designed by Durham architects Atwood and Nash and constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1926, the old training tower included a standpipe system, smoke room, and safety net.

Located across the street from the Durham Athletic Park, the 61-foot structure is adjacent to the old city garage. The drill pad was originally its own traffic island between Washington and Morris streets.

In 1963, the portion of Washington Street separating the tower from the City Garage was closed.

Both buildings were purchased by a private party, and the exterior of the tower was renovated. Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The fire department's present training facilities are located at 1008 E. Club Boulevard.



Other Early Fire Stations

The original Station 2 was located on the north side of W. Main Street, across from the W. Duke & Sons cigarette factory, and built between 1888 and 1893. It was a wood-frame structure with a reservoir in the rear. On August 3, 1903, a replacement Station 2 (right) was opened. Designed by Charlotte architects Hook and Sawyer, the two-story station cost $7,500 and included a five-story hose tower. It was relocated to 1001 Ninth Street in 1951. The old station was demolished soon thereafter.

The original Station 3 (left) opened in 1911 in the 500 block of E. Main Street. The two-story brick building housed a steamer and a hose wagon. In 1915, Engine 3 received a motor apparatus. It was relocated to 103 S. Driver Street in April 1953. After closing as a fire station, the building served as an automotive garage by the 1960s. It was demolished around 1969.

The original Station 4 was located at 21 Holloway Street, just east of Station 1. Opened in 1912 the building housed a horse-drawn hook and ladder company. It likely served until 1924, when Station 1 was remodeled. The building was subsequently demolished.

In 1926, a new Station 4 opened at 619 McMannan Street, later named S. Mangum Street. The single-story station cost $14,350. It was relocated to 1801 Fayetteville Street in October 1958. The old station was later demolished, but prior to the urban renewal that removed the surrounding neighborhood in the late 1960s and early 1970s.



Durham Fire Department
Durham Fire Department, Unofficial Site

Durham County Real Estate Records
Early Black Firefighters of North Carolina
Endangered Durham
National Register of Historic Places Database

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps via NC LIVE
Requires password available from your local library. After logging into NC LIVE, click Browse Resources and select Maps

The Series

High Point
New Bern
Rocky Mount / Wilson


This article was updated in July 2009. A version of this article was published on FireNews.net on November 23, 2004.


Search Mike Legeros

Spot an error on this page? Please let me know, just click my name below...

Copyright 2019 by Michael J. Legeros