Fires were a very big deal in the early history of the Hamline neighborhood. Two of our major excavation sites – the Hamline Methodist Church and University Hall – were both destroyed by fire. So having a fire department presence in the neighborhood would have been a very welcome addition to the community.
The Hamline Fire Station, Hook and Ladder Company No. 7 (later No. 23?), was built sometime around 1887. It was an impressive red brick building on the corner of Asbury and Taylor – where the Drew Fine Arts building now stands. According to the Sanborn Fire Insurance map of 1925, a horse barn was attached to the back (east) side of the building. The photo above was taken around 1900. A closer photo from the same time, shows additional details of the building front.
I have been curious whether any remains of this building could be found. So I had some of my Excavating Hamline History students dig a couple of shovel tests near the northwest corner of Drew Fine Arts. The first shovel test produced a little clinker, ash, and coal and smattering of other artifacts. Not too exciting. The second test, however, produced a bunch of red brick fragments and other building debris. My guess is that these remains are from the fire station – a pretty cool find if correct. We found enough to justify more work here some time in the future.