Schenectady County

Bar owner to rebuild old firehouse

The city’s oldest firehouse will be re-created this winter in the first historic replica project eve

The city’s oldest firehouse will be re-created this winter in the first historic replica project ever attempted in Schenectady.

The Schenectady Planning Commission gave its approval for the plan Wednesday after reviewing the one modern element that owner Tim Trier will add to the structure.

He will frame the firehouse with two narrow glass columns. On one side, the column will connect the building to his bar, Clinton’s Ditch. The column on the other side was added primarily to give the design symmetry but will allow diners to look out at Erie Boulevard through tinted windows.

“The more modern element frames the historic element,” said architect James Pollard of Re4orm Architecture, formerly Smith Pollard Associates.

The entire building will actually be an addition to Clinton’s Ditch, although it will look like a separate structure. Inside, much of the firehouse will be used as a kitchen, allowing Trier to quintuple his cooking space. A wood-fired pizza oven will also be placed in the firehouse, with a mezzanine above it. The dining space will have room for about 50 customers.

Trier plans to decorate the dining space with firefighter memorabilia.

“I can get pictures of old fires, but I’d like to get some old helmets and hoses,” Trier said. “We’ve got a year to collect stuff.”

He hopes to break ground before the end of the year, do much of the work this winter and open next fall. But he can’t start quite yet — first he must get permission from the Board of Zoning Appeals to build on more than 95 percent of his property. The firehouse covered about 98 percent of the lot, and Trier’s proposal would take up the same amount of space.

City planner Christine Primiano said permission shouldn’t be a problem at the BZA’s Sept. 3 meeting.

“It’s appropriate for downtown,” she said.

Those who were very familiar with the original firehouse will notice one difference when Trier’s replica is built. He is not replicating the extension added onto the building in its later years. That addition will be replaced with one of the glass columns.

“We wanted to highlight the original piece,” Pollard said. “We are replicating the very original piece.”

Trier bought the firehouse years ago with an eye toward eventually expanding his successful bar. But he demolished the old building 19 months ago after learning that it was structurally unsound. He promised to rebuild with a perfect replica but then put his bar up for sale and turned the cleared firehouse space into a parking lot.

Just as historic preservationists began to despair that he’d forgotten his promise, Trier announced this summer that the replica project would begin.

The work will cost $400,000 to $600,000. Trier is paying for the project himself; no public financing is involved.

Categories: Schenectady County

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