Old fire station is a hot commodity for groups

The Old No. 7 Fire Station on Central Avenue once was a center of activity in Summerville.

This former fire station off Central Avenue could become a museum for the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department and a community center in the Summerville area.  Nikasha Dicks/Staff
Nikasha Dicks/Staff
This former fire station off Central Avenue could become a museum for the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department and a community center in the Summerville area.

Now there are efforts to bring the historic building back to life.

"Our idea was to have a community center. We talked to the fire department about our plans and found out they were interested in using the building as a fire museum," said Michael Ruffin, a member of the Old No. 7 Community Center of Augusta, a nonprofit organization. "We decided to partner together and use it for both purposes."

The fire station served the Summerville area from 1913 to 2003. Over the years, firefighters built a close relationship with residents and the station became an integral part of the community, Dr. Ruffin said.

When the station was decommissioned, demolishing it was not an option, he said.

"We didn't want to lose the station from the fire administration. It has a lot of history and it means a lot to the people in this area," said Augusta-Richmond County Fire Chief Howard Willis, who also is the city's emergency management director.

"(Firefighters) have a lot of pride in what they do and want to share it with the public," Chief Willis said.

The museum will be on the station's first floor. It will feature displays of antique equipment and fire trucks, one of which is in the fire station already. It also will show the history of the fire department and major fires in Augusta. Fire-prevention programs will be provided to area schools at the site.

The community center, which will be on the second floor, is going to be comprehensive, said Dr. Billy Lynn, the chairman of the organization.

"My goal is to have things for everybody. Because of its location, it can draw from different neighborhoods, so it's going to a different type of center. Most centers are located in one neighborhood, for that neighborhood," Dr. Lynn said.

The community center will include a computer lab, fitness area and recital areas. It will have public health seminars, after-school programs, senior programs and a family mentoring program.

The station will need more than $1 million in renovations before the museum and community center can be opened, Dr. Ruffin said. "The building is still beautiful but it will take a lot to bring it up to modern, usable standards," he said.

During renovation, central heat and air and an elevator will be installed. Plans are to restore the building's original look.

Though officials are applying for grants for the projects, community support also is needed, Dr. Lynn said.

"We all want to give back to the community, but we can't do that by ourselves," he said. "It's going to be quite an undertaking but with the given leadership we have and the community working together, I think we can accomplish that."

Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or nikasha.dicks@augustachronicle.com.

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BakersfieldCityLimits
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BakersfieldCityLimits 07/19/07 - 07:29 am
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Why are we going to spend 1

Why are we going to spend 1 million dollars on yet another community center? There are serious problems with the infrastructure of Augusta-Richmond county, and yet we can find money to reopen a building that will sit empty for the majority of the time? The folly of the political and social elite of Augusta-Richmond County is amazing. Why not have the displays in the Luch Craft Laney museum, or perhaps the Augusta-Richmond county museum?

coco rubio
4
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coco rubio 07/19/07 - 09:00 am
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because it's a historic

because it's a historic building and we should preserve these types of things for our children and their children.......what a great building!!!

Augusta Mom
1
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Augusta Mom 07/19/07 - 09:27 am
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I agree CoCo! It's a

I agree CoCo! It's a beautiful old building with lots of character and we've lost so many of those in the past. I have fond memories of the fire station from my childhood since I grew up 2 blocks away. I remember the firemen sitting outside in chairs on warm nights and playing volleyball with the neighborhood kids.It was almost a community center then. At one time my uncle was stationed there and they had a little goldfish pond the firemen kept up.Some towns would just love to have something like this in this good of condition. You sure wouldn't see Savannah tearing this down!

UNCLE T
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UNCLE T 07/19/07 - 12:01 pm
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I have many fond memories of

I have many fond memories of Number "7" as all of us who were children of Firemen. My dad was one of those you saw sitting out side in chairs under the pecan tree in the back of the station. My sister who is now 59 years old learned to walk by holding onto the front of the Ariel Truck (while it was in the station) when we would stop in and visit my DAD... These men were a family and the friendships they had were priceless. Names like "Chicken Mims, Bucket Baker, Blue, Tater Tim, Needle Nose" and many others I'll always remember. The meals of Cat Head Biscuits and Catfish Stews were something that would have made Paula Dean come to Augusta for. I'm 65 now and every time I pass that place I have wonderful memories. All but a few of these "HEROS" are gone now but they will never be forgotten.

UNCLE T
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UNCLE T 07/19/07 - 12:06 pm
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splecha did not submit the

splecha did not submit the posting for number 7. LIttle Blue did. All of the old Firemen know me by that name. Bless you all.

ajk1
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ajk1 07/19/07 - 01:09 pm
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What happened to it being a

What happened to it being a Fire Station Museum?

BakersfieldCityLimits
1
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BakersfieldCityLimits 07/19/07 - 02:33 pm
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Ok CoCo by all means use 7 as

Ok CoCo by all means use 7 as a museum, but would you be willling to pay for it by an increase in property taxes? You've done well downtown, and deserve credit for helping to bring the downtown area back as a place to go, but this was done, and is still being done by using public funds. First Friday costs the county thousands of dollars each time it is held to pay for dozens of extra deputies to work. Broad st. is assigned a deputy to do nothing but walk up and down each day to make the merchants association happy. You're feedng off the tax paying public and making a profit, so there is no doubt that you would be all for more of the same.

coco rubio
4
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coco rubio 07/19/07 - 05:44 pm
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yeah, sure....sign me

yeah, sure....sign me up.....my property taxes have increased steadily over the years.....at least put 'em to good use!!! & i support the new BID (business improvement district) for downtown augusta......we must improve our infrastructure........

Rozzie2003
5
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Rozzie2003 07/19/07 - 09:20 pm
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I admire coco rubio. I wish

I admire coco rubio. I wish our town had more people like him.

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