ABOUT THE PROGRAM
Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street (HLMS) purchased the old Hamilton Volunteer Firehouse building, located at 3015 Hamilton Avenue for use as a retail business incubator. The building, previously owned by the Hamilton Democratic club, was to be auctioned and likely razed for a parking lot. As part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a Main Street program works to save old buildings from demolition, restore them to attract new business and maintain the integrity and character of an old commercial district.
The old Hamilton Firehouse is in the process of being restored. The storefront exterior facade restoration has been partially completed with new wooden windows, transom and door, as well as a brick restoration. The first floor is equipped to incubate new start up retail business. The first business to graduate from the retail incubator is ReNew Botanicals. The second business, Hamiltone Music, offers music lessons and sells instruments. The second floor houses the offices of Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street program. The original wooden windows on the second story, the stairs, and the wooden door to the second floor were repaired and painted.
A generous Community Legacy grant enabled the installation of a solar panels on the flat roof. Solar tubes will bring natural light to the second floor. A hatch will allow for easy access to the roof from the second floor office suite.
This building will have a new life and play an important role in the revitalization of the Harford Road business corridor. HLMS celebrated the opening of the second floor office spaces in December 2019.
history of the firehouse
Old Hamilton Firehouse Building 3015 Hamilton Avenue
Call it the little building that could.
The small, unassuming structure has sat for a century at the crossroads of the Hamilton business district. Its many transformations tell the story of one of Baltimore’s most enduring neighborhoods. Initially built as a modest wood structure at 3015 Hamilton Avenue, it was later replaced after a fire with two-stories of handsome, deep red brick. It stands on the south side of Hamilton Avenue, just east of Harford Road. The land was sold to the Hamilton Veteran Volunteer Fire Company not long after the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 destroyed downtown Baltimore. The first telephones had just come to Hamilton and electric lights were finally coming into fashion. Thanks to neighborhood fundraisers, the fire company bought a fire truck with an innovative gasoline engine, so residents could proudly watch it race down the Harford Turnpike at 25 miles an hour.
Back then, the firehouswasn’t even part of Baltimore City; It was still a suburb in Baltimore County until it was eventually annexed by the city, along with the rest of the larger Hamilton community. The buildings adjacent to the firehouse -- including a theater and bowling alley -- were demolished, leaving the little building standing alone like a steadfast sentry reminding Hamilton residents of the past. In the following years, the building’s occupants reinvented it many times. It became a center for political activists when the Hamilton Democratic Club purchased it in 1950 (paying all of $29.60 a month mortgage). That was when Thomas D'Alesandro Jr., a popular democrat -- and immigrant -- was mayor.
In 2012, the leaders of Hamilton Lauraville Mainstreet were so concerned the building might be demolished that they raised $55,000 in just two days, from local businesses and others in the community, to purchase it. They renovated the first floor for new business ‘incubators’ to try out their retail ideas. Now it is a music store, Hamiltone Music. In the front the owner sells guitars, sheet music and ukuleles. In the back rooms students take music lessons.
By 2018, more than a century after the building’s bricks were laid, contractors were at work, building new offices upstairs for the Hamilton-Lauraville Mainstreet office. On the roof of the building where electric lights were once installed as a great technological wonder, there are now solar panels. Today, the little building that could can create its own power.