The fire station at 1602 Carrollton Avenue was built to house the city’s segregated African-American firemen, who worked in this station from its construction in 1881 until 1922 when the company moved to Indiana Avenue. This station, renamed Hose Company #16 in the 1890s,  remained in use until 1937. In this photograph, firefighters pose at the funeral procession of Thomas Smith who died in the line of duty when his horse-drawn hose wagon was struck by a College Avenue streetcar on November 8, 1911. He was one of the first four Black firemen hired by the Indianapolis Fire Department in 1876 and the first African-American to die in the line of duty. Smith was memorialized in 2009 when a bench was placed in his honor in the Heroes of Public Safety section at Crown Hill Cemetery. (Photograph from the Indianapolis Firefighters Museum Collection / digital copyright owned by the Indianapolis Public Library)


Although the station has lost some of its architectural charm with the removal of  the decorative curved cornice and arched window, luckily it still survives and has been restored as a private home in the Martindale on the Monon neighborhood. (Google Street View, July 2009)

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10 responses to “Indianapolis Then and Now: Indianapolis Fire Department Hose Company #9, 1602 Carrollton Avenue”

  1. basil berchekas jr says:

    VERY interesting history!!!

  2. Tristan says:

    Very cool! Is there a legal process one needs to go through when buying a non-residential building like this and converting it to a home in Indy? Or just buy & live?

  3. Joan Hostetler says:

    Thanks, Tristan. To my knowledge, zoning is one of the only hurdles when converting a commercial or industrial building into a dwelling.

  4. basil berchekas jr says:

    That last comment was right on the mark. The “frosting” would be to obtain a “certificate of occupancy” permit from the buildings division of the Department of Metropolitan Development once you’ve completed construction after obtaining a building permit to do the conversion (same division; the planning and zoning division of Metropolitan Development would be contacted on the zoning…). The certificate of occupancy would actually let you “move in”, granted once the building division’s inspector has inspected the construction to convert the space to residential space required by the building permit, once any zoning issues (if any) have been dealt with. At any rate, a building permit and certificate of occupancy should be required, even if the zoning was not an issue. . hope this process doesn’t forestall any plans here; Indianapolis needs more “pioneers”, not less!

  5. joe says:

    Most important question, did the fire pole survive?

    If you get a chance one of the best old fire stations still standing is at 1002 Udell Street. Old Station 9 built in 1897. Still mostly intact and available for sale. Not a great neighborhood, but a histoic treasure that should be saved.

  6. Joan Hostetler says:

    Joe: I’m not sure about the fire pole; I’ll just have to knock on the door to get an answer for you. I’ve often wondered about the fire station on Udell. If I can find an old photo of it I’ll write about it sometime. Here’s a good list of surviving fire stations:

  7. Tom Davis says:

    I was able to find this out about Thomas Smith shortly before they dedicated the bench back in 2009.

    “Thomas Smith was buried originally on November 13, 1911 in Section F Lot 4560. This is a section that was reserved for African Americans who could only afford a single lot purchase. He was moved to Section 47 Lot 678 on October 23, 1930 to rest beside Mara J. Melvina Smith, who had been buried there June 26, 1929. The Lot was purchased by Samuel J. McClure on October 30, 1909, and he had Catharine McClure buried there on November 1, 1909 and he himself was buried there on June 5, 1920. All four graves have headstones.

    Lot 678 is on the East side of Section 47, about a third of the way from the north end. There is a bench memorial with “Main” written in cursive on the chairback close to the road. Smith is buried just behind that a grave or to north. You can see it from road if you’re looking in the right spot and the Main bench is pretty obvious.

    Section 47 is just north of Section 44 where Dillinger is buried.”

  8. Joan Hostetler says:

    Thanks, Tom!

  9. Sandra Jarvis says:

    OK, I really want inside of this building. I’ve admired it for years. Love to see how the finished it out!

  10. basil berchekas jr says:

    I do believe we’d all agree!

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