Friday, February 10, 2012

Improvise, Adapt, Overcome, Now Eat. Firehouse-Inspired Sixth Engine Bistro Opens in Mt. Vernon


Old firehouses just seem to lend themselves to classic-looking bar-and-grill type bistros once the last shift has run the last call. And the new Sixth Engine at 438 Massachusetts Avenue near the Mount Vernon Triangle, which just opened this week, is no exception.

The restaurant, owned and operated by Gavin Coleman, Jeremy Carman, Paul Holder, Paul Madrid and Tim Walsh, who also run the Dubliner Irish pub, just down the street, as well as Glover Park's Town Hall, opened in 2005 -- is a smart reuse of the Metropolitan Hook & Ladder Company building, built in 1855 and used by the D.C. Fire Department until 1974. It is the oldest firehouse in the District, and a handful of its era, most built by Leon Emile Dessez (1858-1919) still survive, with some on active duty with DCFD.

"This building presented us with a wonderful opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind restaurant environment, though not without its share of challenges," said Kathryn Bram, Director of Projects for Bethesda-based Streetsense, the marketing and design firm behind Sixth Engine. BuilderGuru Contracting Inc., served as general contractor.

"The firehouse is surrounded by the new 400 Mass condo development, but has its own walls and structure," she said. "We had to solve numerous issues in regard to egress, deliveries, life safety, structural integrity, venting and more." Jenkins Baer Associates of Baltimore also contributed to the interior design.



(Courtesy: DCFire.Com)

The 3,900 s.f. restaurant has two floors, and includes the original "MHL" shield outside the front double doors, as well as a refurbished brass pole.

Douglas Jemal of Douglas Development purchased the firehouse from the city in 2005, recognizing its potential. The Sixth Engine crew leased the space from Jemal beginning in March 2011. The first floor holds a bar and main dining area while the second floor holds the kitchen and a private dining room.

Sixth Engine isn't the only adaptive reuse of local firehouses in the Washington Metro area. Fire
Station 1 Restaurant and Bar in Silver Spring, owned by retired fire captain Jeremy Gruber opened in 2010 in the old Silver Spring Volunteer Fire Department Station 1 House on Georgia Ave. Several other old firehouses in the District have been redeveloped or under consideration, including Firehouse 10 at 1341 Maryland Ave NE. and at Engine Co. 12 at 1626 North Capitol St, the latter of which has seen several restaurant deals emerge in the past few years but fall through.

Washington D.C. real estate development news.

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