The City of Carmel and Clay Township are moving forward on a project to build a new fire administration building and museum in the Carmel Arts & Design District, which means the Carmel Fire Buffs Museum – where historically significant artifacts are kept and displayed for visitors – will be getting a much-needed upgrade and facelift to serve future generations of visitors. The Carmel Fire Department headquarters will actually be returning to the site of its original location, 210 Veterans Way, where the Fire Buffs Museum currently stands. Meanwhile, Station 41 at Civic Square will be remodeled to provide more room and updated amenities for firefighters.
City and Township officials, along with project designers and architects, sought the best way to honor the history of the Fire Buffs Museum while also building a new, world-class museum and CFD administrative offices. The Fire Buffs Museum has worked hard to help preserve Carmel Fire Department history through memorabilia, documents and apparatus and the original intent was to build around the current Fire Buffs building. But after extensive research, discussion and examination of the building, it is not feasible to save the current building and maintain a safe environment for the museum.
The building was built in 1950 by Fire Department volunteers. Among the complications impacting the decision to replace the building:
>>> There are no construction plans in existence for this building.
>>> The primary building material is cinder block which has not withstood the weather and elements requiring annual replacement of the mortar.
>>> The concrete blocks themselves are spalling and coming apart.
>>> The center core of the building is not handicapped accessible and is not large enough for the future museum.
Carmel Fire Chief Dave Haboush said he is sad to see the old building go because it means so much to many retired and current firefighters and their families. But he vowed that construction crews will be closely documenting the exact dimensions and layout of each of the rooms (office, bunk room, kitchen and day room) in order to re-create the spaces as part of the new museum display.
The Buffs building will have a special contractor selected to deconstruct the building in order to salvage as much of the front (east wall) of the current Buffs building as possible. The lime stone and bricks will be reused as a part of the new building facade. The antenna sitting on the current Buffs building will be removed, stored and re-positioned upon the new museum building.
“We worked very hard to come up with a workable solution in order to maintain all or a part of the building as it currently sits but this was not feasible when taking all aspects of this project into consideration,” said Haboush. “I have met with many stakeholders in this project and while we all are sad, we agree rebuilding the Buffs station is the best way to move forward.”
The Carmel Fire Department is giving the community an opportunity to tour and spend some time inside the Buffs building during one last open house on Saturday, October 26 from noon-3 p.m. Please stop by and walk through the building. While you are there, please bring your fondest memories of this building as the department will be recording stories as a part of a living history project for future use inside the museum. At 1 p.m. anyone who worked for the fire department or is a family member can gather for a group photo at the open house.