This floating castle appears to be from an enchanted fable, but in actuality it is Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle.
Unusual in more ways than one, the castle-like fire station housing Engine Company 98 and Ambulance 11 is the only active firehouse in the city with landmark status. It is also one of the few that continue to use the original brass sliding poles. Dating back to 1904 and originally known as Hose Company Number 2, the two story limestone and brick building is the youngest of the three buildings comprising the Old Chicago Water Tower District.
Designed by architect C.F. Hermann in a style echoing medieval castles, the firehouse has been in continual use for over 100 years. What was once a stable is now the kitchen, and the former second-floor hayloft has been transformed into a weight room just off the bunk room. There is also a hose tower designed to accommodate several 50 ft long hoses. The firefighters live, sleep, and eat at the station during their shifts.
Though one of the most visible firehouse in the city, it is not the oldest. That title belongs to Engine Company 18, founded in 1873, though it is no longer in use.
The fire station is very much open to the public, with school groups, neighbors, and tourists from all over the world stopping by whenever the doors are open.Know more? Share with us!
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