The mission of the Denver Firefighters Museum is to preserve the history of the Denver Fire Department and firefighting through the collection and preservation of artifacts, documents and photographs. The purpose of the Museum is to educate the public about fire safety and the history of firefighting in Denver from its inception to the present. This is accomplished through interpretive exhibits, educational programming and scholarly research.
Education is the primary focus of programs at the Museum. Educational program content is guided by its relevance to the mission statement. Programs are designed to provide the participants with opportunities to understand how fire safety and prevention directly affect their daily lives.
It is the vision of the Denver Firefighters Museum to present exhibits that are tangible expressions of the history of the Denver Fire Department. The goal in presenting exhibits is to entertain, educate, and guide the public in the pursuit of new interests. Exhibits also are designed to provide the public with a better understanding of the origins and growth of present community interests, activities, and attitudes. These goals are accomplished by using objects, documents and photographs to interpret the Denver Fire Department’s past and present experiences with the community.
The original Station One was dedicated on January 2, 1882 as home to the Broadway Hose Co. No. 6, a volunteer company organized on February 27, 1881. The original fire house faced three streets; 15th Street, Broadway and Cheyenne. The elaborate building was two stories tall and was topped with a belfry that contained a 1600 pound bell.
The original Station One was dedicated on January 2, 1882 as home to the Broadway Hose Co. No. 6, a volunteer company organized on February 27, 1881. The original fire house faced three streets; 15th Street, Broadway and Cheyenne. The elaborate building was two stories tall and was topped with a belfry that contained a 1600 pound bell. There were two large double doors, one facing 15th Street, and one facing Broadway that, according to the Denver Post, were “for the purpose of facilitating the more speedy exit of the men from the engine room, saving them the time and trouble of running around the building.”
In the spring of 1884, when firemen began to receive pay, it became the home of Engine Co. 1. Station One was in service until 1909 when it was torn down to make room for a monument to the pioneers who crossed the plains and settled in Denver. The new fire house was a two-story structure located at 1326 Tremont Place. It was designed by Glen W. Huntington, a noted Denver architect.
When Engine Co. No. 1 moved into its new quarters, they were still using horse drawn apparatus, as was most of the rest of the city. The east and west walls were lined with horse stalls. By the mid 1920s, however, the entire Denver Fire Department had been motorized, and many of the fire houses were remodeled. At Station One, plumbing and electricity were updated, a concrete floor replaced the wood floor and the hayloft was removed and replaced with locker rooms and kitchen facilities. A ladder company and District Chief also were housed at Station One. In the early 1930s equipment lockers and garage doors were added. The Tremont Place house was in service until 1975 and continued to be used as headquarters until it was moved in 1976. Station One was one of the largest and oldest fire stations when it was decommissioned after sixty-six years of service.
Station One was not to remain unused for long. Myrle Wise, Chief of the Denver Fire Department at the time, saw an opportunity to rescue the building. After consulting with a friend who was a chief in San Diego, where a firehouse museum was operating successfully, he moved to save Station One from the wrecking ball by nominating it for Denver Landmark designation.
A fire buff organization, called the “Denver Fire Reserves,” was the first group to tackle the job of transforming the aging structure into an operating museum. They pitched in to clean, paint and collect the myriad of fire artifacts that were stored around the city. Then in 1978 a group of civic leaders were enlisted to comprise a governing body. They held organizational meetings to create a management structure and began to hammer out a constitution, by-laws and a mission statement. The board incorporated the museum as a non-profit organization in 1979 and received a National Register of Historic Places listing.
The Museum opened to the public on May 27, 1980.
In 1982 the building’s name was changed as operations expanded to include a restaurant upstairs for a much needed revenue source. Old Number One Fire House Restaurant featured sandwiches, salads and desserts. The restaurant and museum were open only over the lunch hours from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Special group tours also were available by reservation.
Then in 1993 the character of the neighborhood changed and the restaurant was no longer able to support the museum’s operation. The board knew it was time for long-range re-direction. Several firefighters where hired in succession as directors that allowed the museum to grow and prosper. These dedicated firefighters knew that it was time to “take it to the next level.” The recommendation was made to hire professional museum trained staff.