CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Chattanooga firefighter Commander Donnie Eaves inherited the old Number 12 Fire hall on Forest Avenue because he was the city’s youngest commander and no one else wanted it.
The neighborhood was hot in the 1980s, three house fires a week, at least, and the building was old. And, some said, haunted.
Doors and drawers opened by themselves. Sometimes at night it sounded like someone was starting the fire truck’s engine. Once, Eaves and his crew were downstairs watching TV when they heard footsteps upstairs.
The historic fire hall was built around 1929, according to the Chattanooga Fire Department, and was used until 1997, when a new station opened just down the street. The building has been mostly empty and used for storage since then.
But now, a Chattanooga real estate agent is pouring money into the fire hall in order to restore it and sell it as a residence or work-at-home business.
Tommy Austin acquired the property in a trade with the city and has spent about $100,000 to restore the fire hall over the last year. He’s added a new roof, new windows and new electrical lines. He’s restored the building’s big red doors and intends to put an original fire pole back in.
The 3,500-square-foot, two-story building has concrete floors and brick walls. It’s listed for sale at $399,000.
“Basically the whole shell and the grounds are ready, it just needs somebody to come in and finish the inside,” he said.
Parking the fire engine in that room during the 1980s and 1990s was not simple, Eaves said. The room and bi-fold doors were built to accommodate the much smaller equipment of the 1930s, not modern fire engines.