City officials broke ground today on a $9 million renovation and expansion of Engine 37, a historic 125-year-old firehouse and the oldest continually operated fire station in Philadelphia.

The 19th-century building in Chestnut Hill will get 21st-century upgrades, including a garage with doors wide enough for today’s fire engines. Firefighters at the station currently use an apparatus with modified handrails and retractable side mirrors so it can squeeze through doors originally designed for horse-drawn firefighting equipment.

“This is a historic day for a historic building,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “I’m thrilled so many agencies, organizations and local residents were able to come together to make this project a reality.”

Engine 37 will remain open while construction takes place over the next 24 months. Among the station’s planned new features:

  • Modern kitchen, bathrooms and locker area
  • New HVAC system
  • Specialized washers and dryers for cleaning bunker gear to help mitigate the risk of cancer
  • Dedicated exercise room
  • Multipurpose/training room

“I’m grateful we were able to work with the Department of Public Property and many other partners to preserve a piece of the Philadelphia Fire Department’s storied past while adding essential components of a modern firehouse,” Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel said.

The station was designed by Philadelphia architect John T. Windrim in 1894. The redesign by Cecil Baker + Partners retains the original 8,678-square-foot facility while adding another 3,408 square feet.

Engine 37 was named to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 2015 and to the Chestnut Hill Conservancy’s Architectural Hall of Fame in 2016.

The photo above shows the firefighting apparatus used at Engine 37 from 1893 to 1911. (Photo provided by Jack Wright)


Architectural drawing of renovated fire station

The photo above shows a rendering of what Engine 37 will look like after the renovation and expansion is complete. (Photo provided by Cecil Baker + Partners)