While the Vigilant Fire House was built in 1844, the "Vigilant" was the first, private fire company founded in Georgetown in 1817. At that time, membership to a fire company was a minor social distinction and included fierce competition between the companies. As a form of fire insurance, subscribers to the volunteer fire brigade marked their houses with the company's insignia on an iron plaque, some of which can still be seen on homes in Georgetown today.
In 1848, the Vigilants reorganized and became a regulated part of DC's government. By 1867, the Vigilants became known as Fire Company No. 1, adopting the government's new naming conventions. Fire Company No. 1 then merged with Engine Company No. 5 in 1883.
Architecturally, the remaining façade is an example of a typical mid-nineteenth century firehouse. The original frame contained only two rooms but expanded on either side to accommodate the growing force and new technologies. Today, the Vigilant Fire House remains the oldest standing firehouse in DC.
DC Inventory: November 8, 1964
National Register: May 6, 1971