The Houston Fire Museum is housed in Historic Fire Station No. 7, the first fire station built after the Houston Fire Department became a fully paid department in 1895.
The Romanesque building, designed by architect Olle J. Lorehn, opened in 1899 and remained an active fire station until its replacement was built in 1969. “Old 7’s,” as it is fondly called, is the oldest firehouse in Houston still standing. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark.
The historic building features Romanesque architecture with rusticated brick details. 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 downstairs. After a fire, the apparatuses were driven into the fire station through two doors at the rear that lined up with the front doors; the fire hoses were dried on a hose rack in the backyard.
In 1926, the area for the men was made into a center stall for a chemical engine, and a center door was added to fit the new equipment. 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 on Elgin Street in 1969. The Houston Fire Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A new chapter for this historic building has begun with a project to preserve “Old 7’s." The Trustees of the Houston Fire Museum are working in tandem with the Texas Historical Society to fully restore the station while maintaining the physical characteristics that existed upon its construction and comply with laws that protect historic properties.