CEDAR RAPIDS — The city now is asking for proposals to save another city-owned building. This time it’s the reddish-brown-brick firehouse built in 1909 at Fifth Street and E Avenue NW.
City officials report that several people have inquired about renovating the building or moving it, and on Thursday, the city held an informational meeting for interested parties. They will have until April 9 to submit a plan to own and renovate the building. The City Council is slated to pick the best proposal on April 23.
The former firehouse, which opened at a time when firefighters used horses, is eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the City Council has said it wants to see the building renovated and reused, not demolished.
The old firehouse was taken out of service in 1985 when the city built its new central fire station nearby. Both were damaged in the flood of 2008. The city had used the old station for a time as a transit office and for storage.
Back in 1909, less than three weeks after the firehouse opened, one of the fire horses, Tom, was seriously injured and put down after crashing into the F Avenue bridge on the way to a fire call.
“This is entered into the log book with deepest regret to all,” the fire captain wrote at the time.
The city’s effort to save the old firehouse is similar to its current effort to seek proposal for four historic buildings on Third Avenue SW across the Cedar River from downtown. The city has done the same with an old firehouse near Coe College, which Coe College is buying, with some commercial buildings in New Bohemia, and with a few other properties in the last couple of years.