Modern Firehouse

about this project

Built in 1899 as Engine Company 86, this Landmark building is the oldest surviving framed firehouse in Chicago. Typically, firehouses in Chicago were demolished in the 1930s and replaced with brick buildings; therefore, this iconic structure is unique to Chicago. Instead of being demolished, it was decommissioned in 1932 and later converted into a residence.


Our scope for this project consisted of the restoration of the 2nd floor including hardwood flooring, the addition of two bedrooms, upgrade of an existing guest bathroom, and the addition of a luxury master suite. In addition, a custom steel spiral staircase was designed and installed to reinvigorate this space and acknowledge its originality.


It is likely that this building was originally designed by Alfred Alschuler, Argyle E. Robinson, William Carbys Zimmerman, or Paul Gerhardt Jr., renown architects of their time. These original designs accommodated period-specific details including a stable for horse-drawn equipment where our 2-car garage now stands.


Career architects and passionate about the built environment, our clients had owned this property for 15 years. The goal of this project was to prepare this building for marketable resale as a single family home – to bring this space to life with improved functionality while restoring its original character and  charm.

We created two bathrooms and three bedrooms on the 2nd Floor. These spaces capitalized on the high ceilings of the existing space to create an airy, modern aesthetic throughout. The design also incorporated transitional spaces such as a small room off of the master bedroom and a lofted space within the master bedroom featuring plenty of natural light to offer transitional rooms with multi-purpose function—both rooms could be considered a closet, an office, a meditation room, or a study. The original wooden beams of this landmark building were left exposed where possible as a nod to its history.


The interior finishes consisted of modern, transitional fixtures and traditional details. The bathrooms featured a luxury freestanding tub, wall-mounted vanity, and a shower entirely encased in glass while the bedrooms showcased oak hardwood flooring which were complimented with traditional mouldings and doors. The bathroom floors were covered in large format, grey porcelain which echoed the main level’s exposed concrete floor.


The design also allowed for minor details that have a major impact on the daily life of a homeowner. These details included making use of the ceiling height to create additional storage above the closets and using high efficiency lighting to minimize the need for inconvenient replacement of bulbs.


In collaboration with SMNG-A Architects, through thoughtful design and careful construction, our team was able to prepare this home for 21st century use while maintaining its accredited Landmark status. Our final product provides all of the amenities of a luxury home while conspicuously celebrating the building’s history. We have brought new energy into an old space and allowed this Chicago treasure to venture into a new era of life.

Project Photos