Old N.C. Fire Station Avoids Demolition

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --

Charlotte's oldest fire station, built in 1909 to house two horse-drawn fire engines, wont be demolished, the owner said Wednesday.

Fire Station No. 2, located in the South End, is about 100 years old.

The owner, Marcel Stark, had previously said the building would be torn down because of financial issues. But Wednesday afternoon, Stark announced Community South and Sherbert Consulting came through late Tuesday night to help save the historic building.

"I can assure that the building is not going to be torn down. That I can assure," Stark said.

Stark wouldnt discuss the monetary aspect of the deal, but did say he's settling for less money than he'd planned.

Stark bought the property about a year ago with plans to turn it into a health spa. He struggled to come up with the funding, though, and turned to a backup plan. He made a deal with a Florida developer who agreed to buy the property, but first wanted the building to be demolished.

Stark said he wanted to preserve the property, but was running out of options. He said he would develop the property if the city could provide a grant or funding of about $250,000. The city, however, said that amount was above the current market rate.

Several offers, including ones from the Charlotte Firefighters' Retirement System, Center City Partners, the city of Charlotte and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, were turned down.

At the time, Stark said he had invested too much money in the building to sell it at a loss.

Despite Stark's rejection of its offers, Center City Partners said it's glad any solution other than demolition was reached.

"Obviously, we're thrilled with the outcome here," Michael Smith, who is with the group, said.

Jennifer Oates has been active in the grassroots effort to save the station and said she's relieved, as well. She started a Facebook page in opposition to the building's demolition, which attracted thousands of followers, and gave City Council member Patsy Kinsey a petition with 750 signatures from people who want to save the building.

Oates also organized a get-together of supporters in front of the fire station Tuesday. She said Wednesday's announcement came as a welcome surprise.

"I feel good," she said. "I feel good, and I'm glad it's over, actually."

Stark hasn't said if he'll move forward with the plans to create a health spa in the building. He is still under contract to knock down the fire station and sell it to a Florida developer, but said he will breach the contract.

History of the old Dilworth Station No. 2, from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission

May 23, 1891:

The Charlotte Consolidated Construction Company, which owned the land on which the future Dilworth Fire Station would be built, sold it to James Gates for $375. Early real estate maps of Charlotte showed that Gates owned several downtown lots and was probably a local real estate speculator.

May 7, 1907:

As the population of Dilworth grew, residents became concerned about the lack of a nearby fire station. A committee appeared before the Board of Aldermen and asked that the suburb be designated an official borough of the city of Charlotte so a station could be built. Dilworth was admitted as a borough, but the establishment of a fire station was deferred.

Feb. 27, 1908:

At a meeting of the Finance Committee, Colonel T. L. Kirkpatrick, alderman from Dilworth, brought up the fire station issue again. Funding wasnt available, but the committee assured that efforts were being made to raise money for the project.

Oct. 17, 1908:

The Finance Committee unanimously authorized the purchase of the lot, owned by Gates, on the west side of South Boulevard. The purchase price was $1,000, and the deed to the property was signed Oct. 20, 1908.

Jan. 7, 1909:

Construction of the station began. According to a local newspaper article, the Dilworth Station was the same size and design as Station No. 1 headquarters on East Fifth Street.

March 1909:

W.S.Orr, the chief of the Fire Department, reported to the Board of Public Safety that the station was complete and equipped. Two horses were purchased for the station, along with equipment like a combination hose and chemical wagon with two ladders attached.

1917:

The era of horse-drawn fire engines ended in Charlotte.

Late 1940s:

The Dilworth station could no longer accommodate the larger motorized equipment. The city purchased a lot across the Boulevard from the old station and built a new one, which still serves the area today.

June 29, 1948:

The old station was sold to W. E. Price and Ethel R. DeLaney, who held the property until 1976.

1976:

The station was deeded to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fire Museum, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the old Dilworth Station No. 2.

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