Two years ago, the more than 100-year-old Fire Station No. 2 was almost demolished. But the historic South Boulevard building has been given new life as a salon and medical spa.
It makes, actually, who we are, said Lindsey Hathaway, 31, co-owner and operator of re Salon and Med Spa. It has so much character.
The original Fire Station No. 2 was built for the people of Dilworth in 1909. Back then, it housed two horse-drawn fire engines.
The firefighters moved out of the building in the late 1940s and since then, the property has changed hands at least twice, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.
The fire station is designated both locally and nationally as a historic landmark. Fire Chief Jon Hannan says the building is a symbol of the strength of the Charlotte Fire Department, which celebrates its 125th anniversary this year.
The current owner, developer Marcel Stark, purchased the building for about $1.03 million in 2006. Stark said his original intent wasnt to tear the building down, but in 2009 he applied to have it demolished at the request of a Florida developer interested in the property.
As the demolition date drew closer, many Charlotteans rallied to defend the old fire station.
Certain properties evoke emotional responses like that, said Dan Morrill, consulting director of the landmarks commission. I think theres something evocative about firehouses.
Stark said he received 6,000 email requests to preserve the building. And more than 6,100 people joined a Facebook group dedicated to defending the old fire station.
The day before the bulldozer was set to roll in May 2010, Stark announced he had secured financing and would renovate the building.
The owners of the spa say they faced all sorts of challenges when transforming the old brick firehouse into a high-end salon and med spa. For example, the building leans a few degrees to the right, which made it difficult to hang things straight inside.
There was a lot to this thing more than I could have imagined, Stark said, But it turned out to be, actually, a beautiful building.
Stark and Hathaway make no secret of the history of the building. In the front lobby of the salon are two of the original fire hose attachments and one of the firefighters poles. Theres also an old photo of the station hung behind the reception counter.
Most noticeably, they left the fire stations original bricks for the interior walls.
It gives something no designer could ever create, says Hathaway.
Still, Stark says some customers are surprised to learn that this modern spa building used to house horses and firefighting equipment. But whether the customers know its history or not, Stark says hes glad the building has been revived.
Its facilitating jobs and it restored a part of history back to Charlotte, he said.