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Central Fire Station Welland

The Project

We are raising funds to restore and upgrade accessibility for the Station, closed since 2007, to make it a multi-use community centre with a Heritage Display open to the public on the first and part of the second floor; with the third floor being rented, potentially as a co-working space.  The Heritage Display, including original brass fire poles, master control panel for street corner alarm boxes and 1957 LaFrance Quad Pumper, will illustrate how the building was used for firefighting in Welland over its lifetime and include a Hall of Honour for first responders.

·    This project will restore and renovate the uniquely designed Central Fire Station from 1920 (for many decades Welland’s only fire hall and a location for community events) reopening it as a multi-use community centre with a Public Heritage Display illustrating its history by using its original 1920’s fixtures and fire fighting artefacts. 

·    Central Fire Station opened on December 17th, 1920 and will be 100 years old this year. From 1920 until its decommissioning in 2006, Central Fire Station (known locally as Central Fire Hall) was the heart of the activities of the City of Welland's Fire Department, an organization vital to the safety and well being of this small city for over 143 years.

·    Central Station is located in the heart of downtown Welland. Over the years three auxiliary fire stations were built but Central Station remained the City ' s largest and in addition to providing fire protection was the heart of recreational and charitable activities for both firefighters and citizens until it was decommissioned in 2006. ln the 1920 ' s a player piano and pool table were installed in its third-floor assembly room which would "...eventually become a social centre of the town..." {from Welland Volunteer Fire Company #1 - Celebrating 100 Years of Service}.

·    “At Homes" with a band and dancing were held there and parades organized. During the Second World War, the fire trucks were moved out three times a month and bingos held on the main floor of the station to raise funds for the war effort.  ln 1945 this charitable activity was formalized with the creation of the Welland Volunteer Firemen's Club.  Included in the club’s activities were parties for developmentally and physically challenged children, sponsorship of the Trojan Bugle Band and raising funds for muscular dystrophy and the hospital children's ward. Many current residents still remember playing at events in the Fire Hall as children or just dropping in for a cool drink on a hot summer’s day.  From its construction to this day Central Fire Hall has remained a large part of this City's soul.

The Public Heritage Display as an education centre will provide:

·     a focus on the history of firefighting and other emergency services in Niagara Region and Welland

·     display, protection and development of the existing significant collection of artefacts

·     recognition that its most significant artifact is the Central Fire Hall Building as the only completely intact historic fire hall in the Niagara Region

·     exhibitions and programs that celebrate and educate the public about Welland's and the Niagara Region's emergency services and honour firefighters, police and emergency services personnel who have served

·     participation and education about the heritage of Central Fire Station in local arts/heritage festivals and celebrations

·     a "Hall of Honour" as a memorial to past and present firefighters, police and EMTs who put their life on the line to serve fellow citizens

·     a heritage facility as an enhancement to firefighter, police and EMS conventions, meetings and training sessions held locally

Second floor and third floor not for profit cultural/artist spaces will provide and encourage networking, collaboration and partnership opportunities for arts, culture and heritage groups and individuals.

·    During restoration of the building, local architectural historians, architects and construction companies who speciallze in the restoration of heritage buildings will be involved throughout the process.

·    After restoration is completed and the Centre is opened, the building with its Public Heritage Display and its accompanying artifacts and archival material (items already in possession of the Central Station Education lnitiative and donations promised from local firefighting organizations and individuals) will provide a living example and a rich resource for those studying not only Welland’s firefighting history but Ontario and Canadian firefighting history and its attendant social and cultural effects - school groups, scholars and heritage specialists.

·    The building has already been the inspiration and subject of many local artists and photographers and several requests have been made by those same individuals for full access to the building once restoration work is completed. ln addition there is the possibility of artists and arts groups renting individual offices or working as part of the co-working space envisioned for the assembly hall on the third floor. 

The City of Welland and its citizens supported preserving and re-purposing this City landmark for decades from before its de-commissioning in 2006: 

·  In 1984 some local fire fighters formed a Fire Historical society with the aim of establishing a fire museum at Central Station after it closed.  This was endorsed by Council in Motions passed in 1984, 1993 and 1996.  In 1993 the City designated the building under the Ontario Heritage Act.  A 2012 Reserve Fund Policy recommended restoration and the City commissioned a Feasibility Study by Lundholm Associates Architects.  Lundholm held two public meetings each attended by over 100 citizens.  Attendees expressed overwhelming support for preserving the building as a fire museum which Lundholm also recommended.

·  Welland’s 2014 Community Improvement Plan stated “…it is important to maintain and update (Central Fire Hall as) these public spaces…represent a core part of community …pride... (and) can provide a powerful sense of belonging…”  Public support continued high from 2016 with petitions, letters of support and local press features as CSEI lobbied over two years to lease the building and fulfill three decades of planning.

·  Many citizens have offered to donate artefacts originally from the building.  A community call to help with clean up brought out out over 30 volunteers including a local church group, City Councillor and local MP.

·  CSEI received an initial 5-year lease on the building in July, 2018 which was then extended to a long-term lease by City Council in March of 2019.  In September of 2018 over 500 people attended an Open House at the Station as part of Canada wide “Culture Days” where City Councillors flipped burgers and retired firefighters reminisced. The Station was opened again for visitors during Culture Days this past September, 2019.

Please Consider Donating To This Community Effort

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Reach out to us for more information. 

If you have questions about the Welland Central Fire Station fundraising project, or the Central Station Education Initiative, or would like to donate or volunteer. 

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