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Restoration: Phase 1

Phase 1 Restoration: Protecting and Replacing

After the Houston Fire Department vacated Fire Station No. 6 at 1702 Washington, the building went through several owners.  Over the years it was used as an auction house and a salvage yard, and it was intended to become a restaurant when the building’s structure and detailing caught Tom Hair’s eye and seized his imagination.

After spotting the building in 2004 while it was being marketed as a location for a restaurant, Tom bought it in early 2005 in “as is” condition from the owner, who had finally told his agent to unload the building in order to free up some badly needed capital for other projects. To get ahead of multiple bidders vying for the property, Tom and his wife, Molly, took it with only a cursory inspection and no negotiations on the contract. It wasn’t until after closing that the couple became fully aware of the true condition of the building – it was in bad shape. However, their enthusiasm about the potential of restoring Fire Station No 6. as the next home for Axiom remained high.

Phase 1 restoration of Fire Station No. 6 entailed a massive demolition and cleanup to protect the building from further damage, return it to its original state, and comply with 21st-century building codes.

While the bones of the structure – the foundation and walls – were sound, there was much to do, including removing 103 years of dirt, paint, and graffiti; repairing or replacing crumbling bricks, mortar, and plaster; restoring missing second-story flooring and windows, and adding a new roof.

Tom’s general contractor, Roger Caddell commissioned a structural engineer to make recommendations before work began. To maintain the original integrity of the building’s design and structure, Roger sought out craftsmen who understood the masonry and roof repairs needed. The demolition, cleaning, and restoration included:

  • Sandblasting the exterior to remove layers of dirt, paint, and graffiti from the brick, and the interior to remove layers of plaster in addition to peeling paint, dirt, and graffiti
  • Removing the tin shed attached to the back of the building, an unusable structure that was falling down
  • Removing massive amounts of interior debris left behind by the salvage company
  • Replacing half of the second-story wood flooring that was missing and salvaging the other half of the original flooring
  • Pointing bricks and replacing crumbling mortar on the exterior of the building, a tedious task completed by an 80-year-old Italian master brick mason named Tony
  • Restoring all 27 windows to their original design, with mahogany framing (the original material used in 1903), but inserting energy-efficient double-paned glass
  • Replacing all the window trim in conformance with the original design
  • Adding (but hiding) steel structural components in the interior of the building to support the weight load necessary for a present-day office
  • Reinforcing the exterior structure by wood blocking the perimeter of the second-story floor and adding additional tie-rods to the back and front of the building
  • Replacing many roof joists while adding a new roof
  • Replacing rusted decorative tin tiles and the metal 1903 emblems on the front of the building
  • Tying down the roof (the original had used only its own weight to hold it in place)
  • Purchasing adjacent property for planned building expansion and parking

The demolition, cleaning, and structural restoration took nearly two years to complete. With a slowing economy, it would be nearly two more years before Tom could begin the final Phase 2 renovation and additions necessary to convert the building into Axiom’s new home.

View other Restoration posts.

About the Author

Since 1998, Axiom has thrived as a hybrid advertising agency/marketing communications firm that fuses marketing strategy with compelling creative to solve business problems and drive opportunities for clients worldwide. Based in Houston, Axiom provides corporate and product branding, advertising and media planning, integrated screen and print programs, and investor relations materials with an emphasis on creative solutions for energy-focused companies.

Comments (5)

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  1. david veazey says:

    Very cool Tom, this shows the guts that it takes to carefully bring a historic structure into the new era and make it totally work.. proud to be apart of this.

  2. This is impressive and exciting. I have always wanted to buy an old firehouse so can’t wait to see what awesome things you do to this. I already know it will be creative and an experience. Congratulations Tom and group!

    • Tom says:

      Thanks Robin. It really is fun to see it finally come to fruition after having been patient for several years. looking forward to having you visit! Tom

  3. Tom says:

    Thanks David! The restoration of the bricks and mortar by you and Tony made a very big difference.

    And thanks so much for the antique fire fighting memorabilia you provided for the building. we will find a place for them.

    Now you just need a Fire Station 6 T Shirt!


  4. Jack Rizzo says:

    Enjoyed talking with you today Tom. You have done wonders with Station No.6.

    My dad was a Houston Fire Fighter for 32 years assigned to Station No.2 most of his career. As a young boy I spent many nights at Station No.2 and have vivid memories of the night calls and excitement of the firemen leaving the staiton.

    As a native Houstonian I’m looking forward to your grand opening. You’ve done a great job of restoration. Thanks for keeping Houston’s history.

    Jack Rizzo

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