The Old Fire Station

brandspuithuisjeHistory is full of stories of devastating fires ripping through closely packed cities. Having enough fire houses spread throughout the city to quickly respond was vital, especially in the age before motorized vehicles that could move quickly. I think if I was living in a time when you were reliant upon horse-drawn vehicles, I’d probably want to live pretty close to one of the fire stations.

Although it has long since been retired, there is one of the old fire station buildings on Schalkwijkstraat, a charming little street near Lepelenburg Park. (It’s charming now, anyway, although I wonder what it was like originally. Schalk seems to translate as “rogue” so schalkwijk seems to mean “rogue district”. Maybe the firehouse was regularly needed!) This sensible brick building dates from 1860 and served one of the volunteer fire services that were located throughout the city. Although there were many such buildings, only two of them now remain: this one and one on Burgemeester Reigerstraat further east outside the old city center.
brandspuithuisjeI think an architect firm now makes its home in the old building. Fortunately, it retains its large double doors, while the small circular window over the doorway and the scalloped pattern along the top add a surprising decorative element to what was an important functional building.

I’m glad so many buildings like this still exist, giving us a chance to visualize history in ways that you just can’t when it’s only through words or old photos. Seeing the buildings in situ gives a better feel for how they really fit in the city landscape. Of course, it comes in handy that many buildings have informative plaques on them. I often wish any building over 100 years old had some sort of plaque listing any pertinent history/use. It would make my research so much easier (and feed my curiosity)!

(Additional information, in Dutch, can be found here.)brandspuithuisje

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6 thoughts on “The Old Fire Station

  1. So lovely! You have me wondering if I’ve been walking past old firehouses around my neck of the woods and haven’t even realized it.
    I’m intrigued by this ‘rogue district’, I’ll definitely take a wander through it when I’m finally settled in Utrecht! (I CAN’T WAIT!!)

    • There are lots of signs like this all over the city, so definitely worth checking out. And they’re not all about buildings. There’s even a rock with a sign. πŸ™‚ The street and the whole neighborhood around Lepelenburg Park (and the park itself with a charming bandstand) are really beautiful and a great place to just wander around.

  2. Pingback: Sound the Alarm | A Flamingo in Utrecht

  3. How lovely to read your blog! I found the link via this article: http://www.bbc.com/travel/feature/20131022-living-in-the-worlds-happiest-places/3; and read some of your posts. It’s always great to see someone enjoying living in my favourite town πŸ™‚

    Just a minor comment: schalks translates as rogue indeed. The Schalkwijkstraat, however, was named after the noble family Van Schalkwijk. They had their castle closeby the village Schalkwijk, south east of Utrecht (near Houten). The castle was demolished ages ago, but similar castles from the era can be found along the Langbroekerwetering. Definitely a tip for a long Sunday bike ride!

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I was thrilled to be included in that BBC article. Since it was published last year, I think I get at least one visit from it every single day.

      And thanks for the info about the Van Schalkwijk family. Although the “rogue neighbourhood” idea is more fun, it’s always great to learn more about the people and places. Come to think of it, the name does sound a bit familiar. I’m sure I’ve come across them elsewhere. Thanks for the Langbroekerwetering tip!

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