Old Town treasure

Firehouse has served community since 1891
By: Jenna Nielsen, Journal Staff Writer
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Today’s fully involved Auburn City Fire Department was once a “bucket brigade.” Many kept buckets of water ready in case anybody shouted “fire.” No engines, water tenders or air tankers. No fire retardant, helicopters or incident commanders to cinch fires in minutes. One symbol of the bucket-dousing fire days during Auburn’s first few years still stands erect off Commercial Street in Old Town — the Old Town Firehouse. Organized in 1887 and built in 1891, the firehouse was originally located at 659 Railroad Street (now Lincoln Way). According to city historical documents, once reservoirs were built in the late 1880s capable of piping water pressure into fire hoses, the volunteer firemen of Auburn’s Hook and Ladder Company No. 2 constructed the firehouse along with a fire observation tower. In 1973, the firehouse was moved to its current location off Commercial Street. “It’s really neat that this old building is still here,” said Battalion Chief John Bailey of the Auburn City Fire Department. “It’s been here ever since I was a kid and it’s a symbol of Old Town.” Linda Robinson, owner of Sun River Clothing in Old Town, said the firehouse is a landmark recognized to be of special historical, cultural and aesthetic value. “It brings with it a level of importance and curiosity for visitors and tourists, especially those who are enamored with the quickly disappearing past,” Robinson said. “Because of its aesthetics, it gives our visitors a sense of place.” Robinson coordinates several events held in Old Town each year and she said she is often asked by vendors if they can be on the “shady side” of the firehouse. “People are intrigued that it’s still standing after all these years and in decent condition, as are most of our historic buildings in Old Town,” Robinson said. “Over the years, soon after Thanksgiving, it’s lit with colorful lights which kicks off our holiday season and can be seen by travelers moving east and west on Interstate 80.” The Journal’s Jenna Nielsen can be reached at or comment on this story at -------- Old Town Firehouse Organized in 1887, built in 1891. Erected by Auburn’s Hook and Ladder Company No. 2. Originally located at 659 Railroad Street (now Lincoln Way). Moved to its current location off Commercial Street. John Bailey Started as a volunteer firefighter and came to the Auburn Fire Department in 1978. Born in Oakland. Father of three and grandfather of seven has been married to Suzi Bailey for 39 years. Voted the best firefighter by Auburn Journal readers in 2007. Spends his downtime camping, fishing, hunting and traveling with his family.