The HOUSTON Fire Museum was originally Fire Station No. 7, the first fire station built by the Houston Fire Department after it went fully paid in 1895.
The two-story fire station was built in 1898 at 2403 Milam and McIlhenny and was of Romanesque style. It was opened in 1899 as the first paid fire station for the City of Houston. The two bays housed Steamer No. 7 and Hose Wagon No. 7, each of which was pulled by two horses. Stalls of the horses were against the outside walls beside the apparatus. Between the two bays was the watch office behind an area where the men spent their time when not at work.
Upstairs was the dormitory, locker room and showers. Quarters for the officers were between the locker room and dormitory. Access to upstairs was by a stairway behind the watch office. Three galvanized fire poles provided a quick way to the apparatus downstairs.
After a fire, the apparatus were driven into the fire station through two doors at the rear that lined up with the front doors. Fire hose was dried on a hose rack in the back yard.
In 1926, the area for the men was made into a center stall for a chemical engine, and a door cut into the front wall for the new apparatus. Two battalion chiefs (a newly-made rank) were assigned to ride the chemical engine. The station remained active until a new Fire Station No. 7 was built in 1969.
Preservation of old Fire Station No. 7 as a fire museum began in 1980. The station had been proclaimed a fire museum by city council in 1977, but little was done to preserve the building. Fire Chief V. E. Rogers pushed the project off center and assigned Captain Calvin Mendel to oversee the renovation project. Today, the Houston Fire Museum has been completely renovated and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
As activities at the Fire Museum outgrew the old fire station at the turn of the century, and the Board of Trustees decided to build a new Fire Museum a block away on Main Street and Hadley. The old museum will still remain as part of the Fire Museum, and the old museum be renovated to look as it did in 1899 when it was built, together with an old steamer and hose wagon.