Tom Hair was driving down Washington Avenue in the Sixth Ward area in 2004 when he saw the dilapidated shell of former Houston Fire Station No. 6. He was looking for a new home for his branding and creative communications agency, Axiom, and saw potential in the 1903 brick building. "When I saw it, I developed an almost instant affinity for the building. I have since learned that that's true for lots of people," Hair tells Art Attack.
That sighting set Hair on an eight-year course of negotiating, designing, restoring and building to create the refurbished and expanded building that now houses Axiom's offices.
Hair set about the restoration and rebuilding with a commitment to preserving as much of the original structure as possible. Cedar Bayou bricks, originally mixed and fired 100 years ago in Baytown, cover the outside of the fire station. Hair was able to find and reclaim bricks from another century-old building; those were used in the newly constructed expansion and matched the originals. Some 60 percent of the fire station's original pinewood flooring was saved, with the remaining flooring coming from reclaimed pine.
The resulting project not only meets but exceeds Hair's expectations. "I'm a native Houstonian and I own a building that's 109 years old. I wanted to create a building that in 100 years from now, the city of Houston and the Sixth Ward community could still be proud of it. When I look at what I created, I think I honored the original building."
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When you walk into the Axiom offices, you are greeted by a wall-sized mural, a photograph of the firefighters who worked in Station No. 6 at the turn of the 20th century. It's one of several such images in the building. "I find myself staring at these pictures," says Hair. "They look like people like us, just a very down-to-earth group. You can tell they're a very proud group. They were firefighters, so they were a very courageous group.
"The group that was in this station was known as 'Rough and Ready.' There's a lot about what that could mean," he laughs.
Axiom has a small display of items on loan from the Houston Fire Museum. That's something they hope to do more of in the future, as well as to assist in fundraising for the museum in some way.
Axiom is located at 1702 Washington. For more information about the building's history and restoration, visit www.firestation6.com.