The old Engine Company No. 7 opened its doors Thursday to welcome the public into what Augusta firefighters envision will become a museum that preserves the city’s firefighting history.
Lt. Brice Reynolds, of Fire Station 11, said the idea is to show Augusta firefighters their heritage.
“The biggest thing is for the history,” he said.
Construction began on Engine Company 7 in 1913 and was completed about one year later for about $12,000. The building on Central Avenue was Augusta’s first station to house motorized fire engines not drawn by horses.
Save Our Seven is dedicated to the station’s preservation. The committee has collected photos and other memorabilia that it hopes to display in the restored station.
“They’re going to see things here you can’t see anywhere else,” said Lt. Joey Smith, of Station 1.
As part of First Thursday in Midtown, Save Our Seven invited people to tour the building, learn its history and eat dinner from the grill.
In future tours, the public could see restored fire engines, old fire poles, firefighters’ maps of the city, an upstairs dormitory and locker room, and other memorabilia and photos.
The building hasn’t been occupied since 2003, when the members of Station 7 moved out. Since then, the building has been used for occasional firefighter training and storage.
David Dunn, of Evans, showed up with a camera Thursday night to see the building he hadn’t stepped into for more than 50 years. Dunn’s father, David D.H. Dunn, was the captain of Station 7 in the 1950s.
As he walked through, memories began to come back. He pointed out where his father’s bed was in the upstairs dormitory.
“I think (their idea) is great,” Dunn said. “I’m scared to death it’s going to be torn down and no one’s going to do anything about it.”
Smith said the building has been opened to the public for the past two First Thursdays.
“We’re trying to bring some life back into it,” he said.
Committee members said the restored building could hold training for firefighters and provide a place for retired firefighters to visit.
“They spend their whole lives here, and when they leave there’s this separation,” Reynolds said.
The committee already has worked to stop water damage and conducted electrical checks. It plans
to start painting and refinishing the floor and stucco soon.
Smith said there is still a “hurdle” to jump with the Augusta Commission, which has concerns about maintenance and operation costs.
“We’re going to make that happen,” he said.