Historical Marker: Creole Firehouse #1
Constructed in 1869 for the Creole #1 Fire Company, this building was designed by local Mobile architect James H. Hutchisson and served Mobile as a firehouse until it closed in 1926. The Creole #1 Fire Company was established in 1819 as the first volunteer fire company in Mobile by the thriving Creole community at the time. To service the needs of the community, the Creole Firehouse #1 was constructed and served as both a business and cultural center for the community in addition to being a firehouse. The building was a venue for Margi Gras gatherings, over 200 weddings, and was a practice venue for musicians. The Creole Fire company eventually was absorbed into the city fire department in 1888 and was eventually disbanded in 1970. Today the building is on the Dora Franklin Finley African American Heritage Trail in Mobile and has served as a private residence since the mid-1990s.
Backstory and Context
The Creole #1 Fire Company was established in 1819 by members of the local Mobile Creole Community, its founding date made it the first volunteer fire company in Mobile and in the state of Alabama. Before the establishment of a professional fire department in Mobile in 1888, the procedure for fire fighting at the time was individual, independent fire fighting companies established by local citizens. Businesses and homes would pay one of the companies and get an emblem to mark their building. When a fire broke out at a building, only the fire company whose symbol was on a building would come to fight the fire and no other fire company.
To help the Creole #1 Fire Company serve their community the building located here on North Dearborn Street was built in 1869 and designed by local Mobile architect James H. Hutchisson. At the time of construction and onward, the fire company building served as a center for the local Creole Society. The building served as a business and cultural center, being a venue for over 200 weddings, a host for Mardi Gras gatherings, and was the founding site of the Excelsior band in 1883 when John A. Pope and friends gathered to celebrate the birth of his son.
In 1888 the company was absorbed into the city fire department. Prior to the introduction of automotive fire carriages to the fire department, the Creole firehouse used Horse-Drawn equipment and was considered one of the fastest in the city thanks to the company’s preference to buy rejected racehorses for their fire carriages. The Creole fire company used horse-drawn equipment until 1924. The fire company would continue operating at this location until 1926 when the Central Fire station was constructed.
Eventually, the company was disbanded in 1970. Today the building is a private residence and has been since the mid-1990s. In addition, the building is also on the Dora Franklin Finley African American Heritage Trail in Mobile.
#13 Creole Fire Station #1, Dora Franklin Finley African-American Heritage Trail. Accessed November 17th 2020. https://www.dffaaht.org/tour2/index.html?id=b&point=5.
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Edwards, Levi . Mobile Fire-Rescue department celebrates bicentennial of city’s first fire company, AL.com. December 24th 2019. Accessed November 17th 2020. https://www.al.com/news/mobile/2019/12/mobile-fire-rescue-department-celebrates-bicentennial-of-citys-first-fire-company.html.
Matthews, Michelle. Historic former fire station is a hot property in Mobile, AL.com. April 11th 2020. Accessed November 17th 2020. https://www.al.com/life/2020/04/historic-former-fire-station-is-a-hot-property-in-mobile.html.
Overbey, Erik. Creole Fire Department, University of South Alabama. Accessed November 17th 2020. https://digital.archives.alabama.gov/digital/collection/usa01/id/264/.
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