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High hopes for redevelopment at vintage Fire Hall

Lately, a number of community members in St. Paul’s West Seventh neighborhood have been contemplating the future of the historic Fire Hall.

The 1872 building, which is considered to be the oldest fire station in the city, has been vacant for a couple of years, according to architect John Yust.

The building, which was previously known as Hope Engine Company No. 3, has unique features, including the remains of a bell tower on the second floor, he says.

To start spurring possible redevelopment plans, a design class at the University of Minnesota came up with plans for a restaurant to go into the space.

Yust provided original drawings of the building along with other reference material to the students, who worked in 11 teams of three as a part of Prof. Abimbola O. Asojo’s “Lighting Design and Life Safety Issues” class.

As a part of the assignment, students paid special attention to lighting needs in the brick building, but they also thought more broadly. Many of the students had plans that involved family-friendly restaurants in the daytime that would transition into more romantic settings at night, according to Yust, who attended the class critique last month.

Students came up with everything from sushi to New Orleans-style cooking. “It was fun. There was a huge variation and lots of great ideas,” Yust says, adding, “My hope is that somebody might find this an amazing opportunity [to redevelop].”

“We want the city to know how important it is to the community,” he says. “It would be appropriate to save this site as a part of the historic fabric.”

Source: John Yust, architect
Writer: Anna Pratt
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