Durham Former Firehouses

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Last updated April 21, 2023.

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 1912. The Durham Fire Department was fully-paid at that point, having reorganized as a career department six years earlier. 
Durham's first "modern" fire station opened in December 1891, a two-story, red-brick structure built on the southeast corner of Mangum and Holloway streets. It was replaced with a newer building that opened in 1925. That 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
Opened 1925 / Closed 1964
Presently a restaurant

Built on the site of the original 1891 fire station, the larger building included such design changes as a rear apparatus bay and moving bell tower and its 829-pound alarm bell from the rear to the front of the building. It opened in December 1925.

In the summer of 1964, 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 was converted for use by the police department. It also  served as an office building for years, and was remodeled as a restaurant in 2009.



Old Fire Station 3

103 S. Driver Street
Opened 1956 / 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, opened in 1903 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
Opened 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
Opened 1974 / Closed 1997
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.

The Public Safety station was closed in the summer of 1997, and Engine 8 was relocated to another station. In 1998, both Engine 8 and Engine 3 relocated to a new Station 3 at 822 North Miami Boulevard. In June 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 1928** / Closed circa 1977
Presently unoccupied

Designed by Durham architects Atwood and Nash and constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers [false?] in 1928, 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. In 1977, a new and larger set of training facilities were opened at 2008 E. Club Boulevard. The new training center was dedicated September 11, 1977.

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 year 1926 was long-cited as the year the tower was erected. That is incorrect.

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 in 1892. 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 1950. The old station was later demolished.

The original Station 3 (left) opened in 1912 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 1956. 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 rebuilt. 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 remained operational, housing the white fire company displaced from Station 5. They moved into the new Station 5 on Chapel Hill Road, when it opened in 1960. The McMannan Street fire 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

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This article was updated in July 2009, and with numerous date and text corrections in February 2020 and on later dates. A version of this article was published on FireNews.net on November 23, 2004.


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Copyright 2023 by Michael J. Legeros