Hallowell is looking for a firm to redesign its 193-year-old former fire station, a plan that would provide a new home for the police station and other community uses.
The city recently issued a request for qualifications from architectural and engineering firms to design of an adaptive reuse of the building at 124 Second St. that would provide a modern home for the police department, but retain historic elements of the 4,500-square-foot building, partly for a museum that would also locate there. Proposals are due Jan. 29.
Built in 1828, the two-story brick building was the town hall — then city hall — until 1899, when the new city hall was built a few blocks north on Winthrop Street. It became the fire station in 1900, and the department was housed there until 2018, when a new station was built at Steven’s Commons.
The two-story brick building, which has a newer clapboard addition on the back, is on the National Register of Historic Places, The Hallowell Food Bank uses the basement, but it’s otherwise unoccupied.
E.J. Perry Construction, of Hallowell, was hired by the city last to shore up the foundation and provide some needed fixes before the renovation, which cost about $200,000.
A 2013 city council resolution requires that the building be maintained and preserved, with its historic value retained, and that the city continue to own it.
The aim of the project, according to the RFP, is to:
- Move the Hallowell Police Department from its “functionally obsolete office” in City Hall to a new office that includes a garage for police department vehicles, modern police office space and a locker room;
- Provide ADA accessibility to the entire building;
- Meet state fire marshal life safety code requirements for full use of the building;
- Work with the Hallowell Food Bank to provide space for the organization to continue operating out of the building;
- Work with parties interested in locating museum space in the building, including interior public view of the hose tower;
- Determine the best use of apartment and meeting room space on the upper floor.
The city is hoping for a timeline that would have a design ready for review by the city council May 10.
This is the second time the city has issued an RFP for the building — the city council rejected the one proposal submitted after an RFP last summer. The latest move caps several years of discussion by the city about what to do with the outmoded space as it also struggled to find a home for the fire department.
The new 5,300-square-foot fire station opened on Winthrop Street in July 2018 after a $1 million anonymous donation for construction. The land for the station was donated by Matt Morrill, of Mastway Development, which is renovating the Stevens Commons campus, which was once the State Industrial School for Girls.