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Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum (Ann Arbor Central Fire Station)

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Ann Arbor Central Fire Station
1882–1883, William Scott and Company; 1999–2000 renovation and addition, David Esea of Cornerstone Design. 220 E. Ann St.
  • (Photograph by Kathryn Bishop Eckert)
  • (Photograph by Kathryn Bishop Eckert)

In the early 1880s, when the citizens of Ann Arbor decided to replace their wood-frame firehouse with a new fireproof building, consciously or subconsciously they were seeking an expression of civic pride. In May 1882, the city aldermen selected the plans of William Scott and Company of Detroit and the following year completed the Richardsonian Romanesque building that faces 219 E. Huron Street. It is boldly polychrome with brick walls and corbeling and stone trim. Decorative gabled wall dormers project from the truncated hipped roof and round- and segmental-arched windows are grouped in threes above the three pedimented engine portals. An Italianate hose and bell tower rises confidently at the southeast corner of the former fire station, as if to signal the city's attainment of civic maturity. Today interactive science and technology exhibits of the hands-on museum occupy the former fire station and the brightly colored thirty-one-thousand-square-foot addition, which also holds classrooms, offices, galleries, and a shop.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert

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