Old Fire Station No. 1, located at 201 N. Market St., has recently been purchased by the San Jose Fire Museum for $1 million.
The San Jose City Council finally approved the sale after 10 years. The fire station, built in 1951, is a historical landmark.
John McMillan, president of the museum and retired assistant fire chief, wanted to save the building and put it to good use.
“In the beginning, we tried to lease the building from the city, and the city did not want to lease it to us. The city had plans to tear it down and so we basically did our part to stop them from tearing it down,” McMillan said. “It’s been recently in the past couple of years that the city has been willing to discuss giving us the opportunity to purchase it.”
The Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Jose worked with McMillan to make arrangements for buying the fire station.
The museum found a partner, the Brandenburg Family Foundation, that was willing to spend $1 million to help them purchase the fire station.
Brandenburg already wrote the check and will be closing escrow next week.
McMillan talked about the capital recruitment plan, which changed from a four-phase process into a two-phase process, that is taking place to get the new and improved fire museum up and running.
“The first phase is buying the station. First phase is done, we own it. Phases two, three and four are all going to become one phase,” McMillan said. “In the next five years, we’re going to raise the money, then do the construction and open it up one time completed instead of having to partially close it down and remodel.”
The museum is located in a warehouse at 1661 Senter Road #A3. It has a wide collection that consists of historical firefighting equipment and memorabilia which date back to 1810 from fire trucks and engines to bells and badges.
The badge of Hook & Ladder 1 is McMillan’s favorite piece of the fire museum’s collection because it is the original badge San Jose’s first firefighter wore in 1854.
Fire Captain Sean Lovens is also excited for the San Jose Fire Museum to be right next door to the New Fire Station No. 1.
“Here in San Jose, we’re very fortunate that we have a huge collection of antique apparatus that you can trace out not only the history of the fire department, but also the history of the city,” Lovens said. “We have a long history here in San Jose, next year will be our 162nd anniversary.”
Lovens agrees with McMillan on how adding a fire museum downtown will attract a great amount of people.
“This museum will tie into downtown which will force kids and families to really make that trek from the south side of downtown through the north side,” Lovens said. “They will get to experience more of the city and all the attractions it has.”
Once the museum is fully developed, the San Jose Fire Department will officially own the entire block because there are no other businesses or property between the old station.
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