Vigilant Fire House

Erected in 1844 the present building is the second firehouse on its site and the oldest stranding firehouse in the District of Columbia.

The original portion of the Vigilant Firehouse s facing east at 1066 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., approximately 30 feet north of the C&O Canal, is a two story rectangular brick building which measures 24 feet (three bays) across the principal front by 44 feet (three bays) deep from east to west. The gable,end of.the building facing toward the street is capped by a small square wooden bell tower. The original structure has been added to on both sides and in the rear so that the building now measures 56 feet by 81 feet, including all of the additions.

The original firehouse contained only two rooms one on the first floor and another on the second from which a hatch in the ceiling led to the cupola The Interior of the first floor contains no evidence of its original trim or finish. On the second floor the simple wooden trim around the windows appear to be original. There Is no trace of fire equipment In the building today, The first floor is of concrete, while the second Is wood.

Architecturally, the building is significant as a now rare example of a typical jmid-19th century firehouse. Historically, it is an important link with the development of fire prevention techniques in the District of Columbia, The Vigilant was formed as a private fire company in 1817. It was the first such company in Georgetown and one of the finest in the District of Columbia. John Kurz was the founding president; James Moore, the Secretary; and James Corcoran, the Treasurer, Membership in a fire company, which was voluntary, was a minor social distinction during this early period, and the competition between different fire companies was sometimes violent. As a form of fire insurance, the houses of subscribers to a volunteer fire brigade such as the Vigilant were marked with the company's insignia on an iron plaque. A number of Georgetown houses still carry these plaques.

Built on site of frame fire house; rehabilitated 1994
DC Inventory: November 8, 1964
National Register: May 6, 1971



1066 Wisconsin Avenue, NW