The old firehouse at 438 Massachusetts Avenue, NW is the only remaining firehouse from the volunteer era. The building was built in 1855 for the Metropolitan Hook and Ladder Company. The company was predesignated Truck Co. No. 1 with the advent of the city’s first part-paid Fire Department in 1864. Six years later, with the abolishment of the volunteers, it became Truck Co. A and served as the city’s only hook and ladder company until 1879 when Engine No. 6 took over its Massachusetts Avenue quarters.
Modernization of fire equipment made it necessary to widen the doors in 1948. While reworking the doors, the building’s heraldic symbol was retained — a fireman’s helmet mounted over the national shield with the old initials MHL and the figure 1 carved into a frontispiece (below).
The station was vacated when Engine company moved into its new station house located at 1300 New Jersey Avenue in June of 1974. Today, the structure is still intact and awaiting a new tenant with vision.