New Brunswick

Historic Moncton building has a 'pretend second storey'

Museum curator says this Moncton building reminds us there are hidden facets in everyday things.

Former fire hall is hiding a secret in plain sight

On the other side of the glass is sky, not a room. The feature was created to maintain the esthethic look of an old building, Moncton's second fire station. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

Walking down St. George Street, people might notice a red brick building with a plaque reading "No. 2 Fire Station, 1899."

They might notice its three bay doors and the windows above them. But what most people don't notice, according to museum curator James Upham, is that the last window on the left looks not into a room but into the sky.

It has no roof, and is, in fact, a "pretend second storey."

The historical building is now occupied by Youth QUEST Central, a group supporting teenagers and young adults. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

The story behind Moncton's No. 2 Fire Station building stretches back to 1899, when it was built to succeed the creatively named No. 1 Fire Station.

Halfway through construction of No. 2, the No.1 fire hall burned down, proving that "early Moncton has a solid sense of irony," said Upham, who's in charge of public programming at Resurgo Place.

No. 2 became the only fire station in the city for a while. But by the 1960s, there were at least two more, so the firefighters moved out and the library moved in for a short time.

Moncton's second fire station, creatively named Fire Station No. 2, was built in 1899. (Submitted/Resurgo Place)

"A lot of things burned down back in the day," Upham said, including the library, which needed the temporary home.

The tides really turned for No. 2 when Ford's Pharmacy set up shop there in the early 1960s. The owner decided to expand, so he added a section to the left side of the building.

Windows hide the St. George Street building's pretend second storey. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

Perhaps because the pharmacy didn't need extra room up top, the owner stopped renovations there, leaving three bay doors below but only two rooms.

And to avoid having the addition look like "a sore tooth hanging there," the owner put a cap on the top half of the building,

Fire Station No. 2, after Ford’s Pharamcy expansion and before Youth Quest renovations. (Moncton Museum)

The building stayed much the same until early 2000s, when Youth Quest Central, a drop-in service for teenagers and young adults, decided to go in and renovate.

Now, the roof of the addition section can be accessed by staff of the centre and acts as a patio, with extra shelter from the street.

Using bricks from the inside of the building, Upham said, developers built a facade over the extra bay door to improve the esthetics of the building and ensure symmetry.

"It's not something that most people are going to notice," he said. "But when you do, you start to notice that we're surrounded by all these amazing things just regularly."

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