Laurel Street Firehouse
History can serve as a source of nostalgia for what once was but can also provide hope and imagination for what will be. Firefighting has a rich history in Baton Rouge. Beginning in 1825 as a loosely organized group of men, the fire department grew into a pillar of community and today has the potential to play a vital role in rekindling Baton Rouge’s Mid City into a viable economic, social, and cultural center.
In 2012, this project served as a service-learning course in the LSU School of Architecture in partnership with the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance and the Baton Rouge Fire Department. Students enrolled in the course were challenged to develop a program and conceptual designs for a firemen's museum in a historic firehouse in Mid City.
The Laurel Street Firehouse (formerly Station #1) served as an active fire station for 85 years in Mid City until it was decommissioned in 2011 when a new station was constructed nearby. The firehouse was built in 1926 along with three other stations in the early years of firefighting in Baton Rouge. The Fire Department wished to repurpose the space into a museum for near-century-old fire trucks, early 20th century firefighting equipment and a September 11 exhibit. The building would also act as a venue for fire prevention education, charitable fundraising, community outreach, and as a meeting place for the Firemen’s union.
Students took an inventory of artifacts including uniforms, equipment and fire trucks at the Fire Department’s existing storage space downtown. They also met with firemen and fire department leaders to assess basic needs and better understand the history of firefighting in Baton Rouge, the old fire station and surrounding neighborhood. Students then shared ideas and received feedback from members of the fire department and discussed ideas for hosting a community event to celebrate Old Station #1.
On October 8, 2012, the studio and the Fire Department hosted Rekindle Mid City - a community potluck of food, stories and people at Old Station #1. The event was a way to celebrate the history of Mid City and the Fire Department, to learn more about the area, and to exhibit the firehouse site as a valuable public space.
At the end of the semester, students hosted a public pinup of the design proposals at the Mid City Merchants' White Light Night.
Kyle Daroca, B. Arch, 2014
Brendan Boudreau, B. Arch, 2014
Angela Palmer, B. Arch, 2014
Ashley Webre, B. Arch, 2014
Johnny Johnson, B. Arch, 2014
Andrew Pharis, B. Arch, 2014
Robin Day, B. Arch, 2014
Colleen Shannon, B. Arch, 2014
Kaitlyn Kehoe, B. Arch, 2014
Rongrong Chen, B. Arch, 2014
Kyle Bennett, B. Arch, 2014
Elliot Manuel, B. Arch, 2014
Ashley Fetzer, B. Arch, 2014
Ryan Johnson, B. Arch, 2014
Daniel Schaffer, B. Arch, 2014
Chelsea Karasoulis, B. Arch, 2014
Lindsay Boley, B. Arch, 2014