This year, Fire Station #3 celebrates its 100th anniversary. The history of the station is beautifully detailed below by Fire Captain Andrew J. Sandor. Located at 756 North Avenue near the corner of Eastchester Road, Fire Station #3 received a Heritage Award in 2009: “The handsome brick building was designed by Barnard & Wilder in the Italian Renaissance Revival-style, with a four-bay stuccoed façade trimmed in brick and a roof of barrel tile. The architects highlighted the two large equipment doors on the first floor with flared voussoirs of alternating brick and stucco. The second floor windows were also trimmed with brickwork and a round-arched blind of brick.”
Captain Andrew J. Sandor, Station Three House Commander, has written a history of the station house:
For the past 100 years, Fire Station Number Three at 756 North Avenue has served the City of New Rochelle 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. As it did in 1912, Station Three houses a pumper truck and a ladder truck. Since 1987 the Station has also housed an ambulance and crew.
Preceding Station 3 was the Olympia Engine Company, organized in the early 1900’s. As fate would have it, during the winter of 1909, a nighttime fire destroyed the fire station while it was unattended. Though a sad event, plans for a new firehouse were soon moving forward under the direction of New Rochelle's first paid fire chief, James Ross. This proposal appeared in the March 18, 1910 edition of the New Rochelle Standard:
“The fire commissioners have agreed upon the design of the new fire house on North Avenue. It will be a double house, measuring 40 x 80 feet, as the second floor will consist of two company rooms, a dormitory for ten beds, and a locker room.” This basic framework remains in place today.
Actually, Chief Ross had noted that New Rochelle's population was greatly expanding. In an effort to increase fire protection, he asked City Council to build not one but three new fire stations at key points throughout New Rochelle. Along with firehouses on Drake Avenue and Webster Avenue, the third was to be built near Thomas Paine Lake, south of Eastchester Road, west of North Avenue (our Station 3). All three houses are currently in service.
Work at Station 3 was completed by 1912, allowing the firemen to occupy the new fire station and provide full-time, paid fire protection to the north end of New Rochelle. Like the firehouse on Drake Avenue, Station 3's architecture was based on the Italian Revival style, popular during the early 20th century.
Station 3 remained largely unchanged until late 1985. During a routine building inspection, the main floor was found to be in unstable condition due to deterioration of the concrete structural slab. Temporary repairs were made, but it became apparent that the entire floor would need replacing.
Rehabilitation plans were drawn up by Gustav Getter Associates. Work began in late 1986 after a City Council Resolution appropriated $1.2 million.
In the end, a new basement slab and footings for the street-level apparatus floor were added. The basement included a finished area for an ambulance crew. A special system to carry truck exhaust up and out of the building was placed. Perhaps most importantly new heating, ventilation and electrical systems were installed, resulting in greater energy efficiency.
In addition to replacement of the original kitchen and gutting of the second-floor living quarters, the front doors were widened to accommodate a pumper, ladder truck, utility vehicle and an ambulance. However, the exterior arch in the door frame was maintained, in keeping with the original style and beautiful brickwork of the building.
New Rochelle's bravest, as men of the fire service are known, have always been a colorful group of characters. However, one of the most colorful characters to have spent time under our roof was not a firefighter but a rather free spirit named Clarence 'Slouch' Gallagher. Clarence was a "tenant" of the unfinished Station 3 basement during the 1960's. An older gent and a U.S. veteran, he claimed to have ridden up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt. Since he used 756 North Avenue as his address, we were still receiving mail for him as of last year. If anyone knows Clarence's whereabouts, please stop in and let us know.
To this day, Station Three remains an integral part of the New Rochelle Fire Department, as well as of the community itself. Regular pedestrian traffic and a nearby playground have made the firehouse a drop-in spot for adults and children alike. It is also a traditional gathering spot for department members as they queue up to march in the Thanksgiving parade. As nearby buildings and businesses continue to come and go Fire Station Number Three remains an anchor between the north and central sections of our City.