Michigan Roadside Attractions: Adrian Engine House No. 1
Michigan Roadside Attractions on Travel the Mitten highlights our attempts to explore the many interesting things that can be found on the highways, byways and back roads of Michigan, ranging from the interesting to the unusual.
We visited Adrian last May on a weekend trip that saw us check out some “new to us” breweries, parks, and historical attractions. One of our first stops was downtown to see the Laura Smith Haviland statue, and after we parked a unique red brick building had captured our attention. We found out this was the Adrian Engine House No. 1, a fire hall that dates back to the 1850s. Now home to the Bruggeman Law Offices, this was one of the cooler fire houses we’ve come across while traveling in Michigan.
A two-sided Michigan historical marker in from of the building tells the history of firefighting in Adrian on one side: “Adrian founded its fire department in 1841. By 1851, it had 102 male volunteers, who served in two companies. They pulled hand pumpers and hose carts to fires, using water from city-built reservoirs. In 1867, the city began to use horses to pull its steam engines. Drivers were the only paid staff from 1867 to 1918, when the city hired its first firemen. Beginning in 1912, the city bought motorized fire trucks and retired its horses.”
The marker’s other side provides some details about the Adrian Engine House: “In 1855, local architect and builder O.P. Smith designed and constructed Engine House No. 1. An 1867 renovation increased the hose-drying tower’s height from twenty to seventy feet, making it a town landmark. Italianate elements are included in the Romanesque Revival building. When the Fire Department stopped using the engine house in 1987, it was Michigan’s oldest fire hall in continuous use. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.”
The Adrian Engine House is located at 126 E. Church St. in downtown Adrian.