Winston-Salem Former Firehouses

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Before their merger on May 13, 1913, the towns of Winston and Salem were protected by separate fire departments each operating horse-drawn hose wagons and steam engines. Winston also had a horse-drawn hook and ladder truck. Both fire departments shared the same electric-telegraph fire alarm system, and both responded to all alarms in either business district. By 1917, the Winston-Salem Fire Department consisted of 17 paid men in two companies and 60 volunteers in four companies. Apparatus included two American LaFrance triple-combination pumpers. By 1923, the fire department was fully-paid. By the end of that decade, the fire department was completely motorized.


Old Station 2

301 South Liberty Street
Opened 1912 / Closed 1976
Presently offices

Built as a combination town hall and fire station for Salem, the two-story brick building featured a bell tower and two bays facing Liberty Street.

The Rough and Ready fire company was housed in the building that became Winston-Salem Station 2 after the towns merged in 1913.

In 1958, Engine 2 relocated around the corner to 300 South Main Street. A ramp connected the new building with the old building, which was used as living quarters and administrative offices.

In 1976, the building was closed after Engine 2 was moved to a new Station 1 on North Marshall Street. The 1895 bell from the tower and one fire pole were relocated to the front of the new facility.

The 3,320 square-foot structure presently serves as an office building and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.



Old Station 4

214 North Dunleith Avenue
Opened 1923 / Closed 1980
Presently church

Winston-Salem Fire Station 4 opened in 1923 on North Dunleith Avenue.

Beginning in 1951, the two-story station housed the state's first paid African-American firefighters. "Company Four" consisted of eight black privates and seven white officers. The fire department was fully integrated by November 1967.

In December 1980, Engine 4 relocated to 290 South Claremont Avenue, later renamed South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

The 1,680 square-foot former fire station presently serves as a church.



Old Station 5

450 East Devonshire Street
Opened 1924 / Closed 1974
Presently apartments

The fifth Winston-Salem fire station opened in 1924 on East Devonshire Street.

Like the North Dunleith station, the two-story structure included a four-story tower for training and drying hose.

In 1974, Engine 5 relocated to a two-bay facility at 771 Palmer Lane. By that time, the fire department was three years into a transition to lime-yellow colored apparatus.

Red apparatus returned in 1991 with the delivery of a Spartan / Quality pumper to Engine 1.

The old engine house presently serves as an apartment building.



Old Station 2

300 South Main Street
Opened 1958 / Closed 1976
Presently retail and office space

Opened in October 1958 behind the older Station 2, the two-story brick building was designed to conform to Old Salem architectural lines. The $70,000 facility featured four apparatus bays facing Main Street, and an office and lounge in the rear.

The lower level faced Liberty Street and later housed storage, Training Division offices, and the vehicle maintenance shop.

Sleeping quarters and a kitchen were provided in the old station, which was connected to the new station by an elevated walkway.

In September 1976, Engine 2 was relocated to a new Station 1 at 651 North Marshall Street.

Old Station 2 presently houses a piano dealership upstairs and a law office downstairs.



Old Station 2

2050 Griffith Road
Opened 1980 / Closed 2004
Presently commercial space

Four years after Engine 2 relocated to North Marshall Street, a new Station 2 opened in west Winston-Salem.

The 6,700 square-foot station housed a single engine company.

Built at a cost of $220,719, the one-story, two-bay building included solar-assisted heating devices.

Three more fire stations were built in the 1980s at 5754 Shattalon Drive (Station 14), 4548 Shattalon Drive (Station 15), and 1701 Pope Road (Station 16).

In 2004, Engine 2 relocated to 405 Somerset Drive. The former fire station presently serves as a tanning salon.


Other Early Fire Stations

Photos courtesy Winston-Salem Fire Department

Three early Winston-Salem fire stations have been demolished in recent decades. Old Station 1 at 117 West 8th Street was built before 1912 and served until 1976. The two-story station had a single double-width bay. Old Station 3 (left) at 1508 North Liberty Street opened in 1908 and served until 1964. The two-story, two-bay building was originally constructed as a combination fire station and farmer's market. After closing in 1964, it remained unoccupied until its demolition in 1971. Old Station 6 (right) at 1717 West Academy Street opened in 1925 and served until 1996. The single-story, single-bay station was offered free for anyone willing to move the 71 year-old building. With no takers, the 2,500 square-foot structure was demolished on May 16, 1996. The $1.3 million replacement facility was constructed on the same site.

Old Salem Market and Fire House

Utilized a century before the Winston-Salem Fire Department was organized, Old Salem's Market and Fire House is the oldest engine house in North Carolina. Built in 1803, the single-story brick structure served as both the town market and as a storage facility for the town's two hand-powered fire engines. In 1856, the town's Board of Aldermen voted to remove the building from the square and it was relocated to the southwest corner of Main and Belews Street. The building, along with the original fire engines, was reconstructed in 1953 and presently serves as a historical display on the grounds of Old Salem.

Early Winston and Salem Firefighting

The fire Winston fire company was organized in 1882 and used the town's first fire apparatus, a horse-drawn steamer delivered at the same time. Steamer Company No. 1 was incorporated by the state legislature in 1886. Winston's second fire company, Steamer Company No. 2, was organized in 1891. Two years later a hook and ladder company was formed. Additional volunteer fire companies were organized around the turn of the century to protect the town's black community. The first Salem fire company was organized in 1785. Upon delivery of two hand-powered pumps from Germany, one wheeled and one hand-carried, a fire-master and three assistants were appointed along with the necessary men to operate the engines. Salem's first bucket brigade was also formed at that time.


Several dates are cited for Salem's first fire company and fire department. Winston-Salem Fire Department, 1913-1992 states that the Salem Fire Department originated in 1772. The lettering over the apparatus bays at the old Salem town hall reads "ROUGH & READY FIRE CO. NO. 4" and "ORG'D 1784." The State magazine on December 25, 1948 cites the first fire company as forming in 1785 to operate the two hand engines that arrived on May 9. Salem's Vigilant Company of 1843 is cited in an unidentified newspaper article from the early twentieth-century. The article cites a brochure recounting a fiftieth anniversary celebration on September 16, 1893. The Twin-City Sentinel on October 16, 1952 implies 1845 as the first year of the fire department, citing a fiftieth anniversary in 1895. The Twin-City Sentinel on February 9, 1976 notes that the fire company took the name Rough and Ready from a mural on the side of the town's first suction engine, purchased in 1858. The article states that the fire company was formally organized after the civil war.



Winston-Salem Fire Department
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps via NC LIVE
Winston and Salem insurance maps from 1880, 1885, 1890, 1895, 1900, 1907, 1912, 1917, 1950, and 1957 are available online. Access requires a password available from your local library. After logging into NC LIVE, click Browse Resources and select Maps
Old Salem Market and Fire House
Forsyth County Public Library
Two books about the Winston-Salem Fire Department were published in 1992 and 2002. Search the Library Catalog for keywords "Winston-Salem Fire." The library's reference files were also consulted, along with the Forsyth: The History of a County on the March published by the The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill in 1976

The Series

High Point
New Bern
Rocky Mount / Wilson


A version of this article was published on on November 25, 2005.


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