Recently, Kristen Barrow and I traveled to Salem for a project on the historic North Street Fire Station. Built in 1881, the fire station has seen some significant wear over the years, and the City of Salem is hoping to repair the station to its former state. We spent the day examining the building and taking field measurements for drawings and further studies. Although the station has an undeniable historic charm, we found a variety of issues that need to be addressed.
The elaborate 1881 brick and cornice work has begun to fall apart, and despite the fact that the missing bricks have created pleasant homes for birds to place their nests, the fire station would undoubtedly benefit from new brickwork. In several places, the building has settled unevenly, causing the brick to gradually be pulled apart. This presents some obvious structural, as well as aesthetic, issues. The fire station has elaborate trim work and window detailing. Unfortunately, there is some wood rot, and the trim would benefit from a fresh coat of paint. Because the building is so old, there are a unique set of conditions that go along with the potential renovation. The building uses a brick that is smaller than the standard brick size today, and also has a greater chance of variation than the standardized ones of today. The windows are not to current standards either, and would need to be custom-made for a renovation.
After a day on site, we returned to the studio to make the drawings and estimates necessary for the City of Salem to make an educated decision on what their next step should be. Since then, we have submitted our drawings for review by the City of Salem to decide the best way to proceed with the project.