New Life for Old Firehouses in New Orleans
There are new sounds and new life for an old firehouse on Toledano Street in Central City. When Craig and Nathalie Adams bought the foreclosed property two years ago, it had been the Firehouse Recording Studio, home to New Orleans’ legend Eddie Bo. Once a thriving creative space, the storied structure was in disrepair. Craig Adams says, “Prior to that, it had been an automotive repair shop, it had been a studio prior to that, it had been a wood shop before that and then eventually it goes back far enough to where it was a firehouse.”
The Adams’ spent two years renovating the space and bringing the building up to code. A step inside the Dance Quarter is like a step back in time with exposed brick punctuating the dance studios, cypress doors in the bathrooms and mason jars hanging overhead. However, Adams says, “The most, most joyous element is to see new people come into the building and that they instantly capture that soul too and they get it and they fall in love with the building and people come in and say I want to live here. I wish I could make this my home!”
Nathalie agrees. She says, “There’s an energy also to this building. I think it has a lot of soul, just like New Orleans and so I think it affects people when they walk in.”
The Dance Quarter isn’t the first firehouse renovation around town. In the Lower Garden District on Annunciation Street, an old brick firehouse was turned into a fine dining establishment. Out came the second story and in came the white tablecloths!
Kurt Brodtmann is the owner of Dijon Restaurant. He says, “The building was originally commissioned for use by the city in 1914. It was right at the time when they were switching from horse and buggy to motor coach, hence the cobblestone floors and some of the older characteristics like that.” Doubling as both a fire and police station, you can even see bars from the old jail cell!
“It is what New Orleans is. Part of our culture is the fact that we didn’t tear down and build new like every other modern city did. The fact that we did preserve our history and our heritage, I believe is part of what makes this town what it is.”
History in the walls and floors. Memories in the materials and structure. Two old firehouses are taking on new life and new roles thanks to the dedication of community members who are willing to preserve them.