Help Save Waynesboro Fire Department History!

Do you remember walking in downtown Waynesboro, stopping by the A&P for your groceries and getting a friendly wave from a firefighter next door during your shopping trip?  Perhaps even the thrill to see them leave the station on their 1926 fire truck, affectionately named "Old Betsy"?  We were honored to find a piece of that history and nostalgia, long forgotten to most and to the community for 60 years, and we plead for your assistance in restoring that era and piece of our history.  While in the process of renovating 143 N Wayne Ave, Waynesboro, VA to accommodate a social mission driven coworking space, we received the shock of our lives to find that this building was once home to Waynesboro's Fire Department!  During demolition, we found a 36" Tall by 16' Wide stained glass with the inscription "Fire Dep't No. 1".  We need your help in preserving this extremely important piece of local history, honoring the selfless firefighters that served this town through The Great Depression, World War II, and The Korean War.  This is truly a superb piece of Americana and history that cannot stand to be lost in our beloved town.  Please help us ensure this is restored properly and protected for our future generations to come!  Will you join us in supporting the preservation of our heritage?  The town we love deserves to have this treasure available to our grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Any amount of assistance will help towards this noble purpose of preserving a piece of Waynesboro's history.  

We did some research beforehand and found an old photo that showed a wooden fire department bell tower in the same location, presumably serving Waynesboro city from the 1890's-1925.
Though that was an exciting fact about the history of the land, nothing could have prepared us for beginning demolition and finding what we could only guess was the hole in the floor for the fire pole between the first and second floors.
52310914_1604367345289774_r.jpegThe excitement and honor to find something having the potential to be so historically significant was overwhelming.  This prompted further research into the city's archives and records, as we desperately sought answers.  Unfortunately, there were few records that existed and only one of a tax map in the 1930s that suggested this may have been the fire department.  Though as demolition progressed, we found the confirmation we needed.  Behind a layer of plaster on the inside and aluminum siding on the facade, we discovered a true treasure of historical significance for this area, the firefighting community, and the country as a whole.  Hiding in this quant, unassuming, old building, neglected for years, was an integral piece of the local history.
52310914_160436803182698_r.jpegJust beneath the canopy and aluminum siding underneath, we found it...
52310914_1604368105177495_r.jpeg52310914_1604368135291123_r.jpegThis piece of art had been installed presumably during the building's construction in 1925, and served as the city's firehouse until 1958 when they built a new station on West Broad.  Covered for 60 years, this nearly 125 year old piece of art was in miraculous shape for its age!  Thanks to the Waynesboro Fire Department, we were even able to find a photo of the station while in service!
52310914_1604368359796135_r.jpegThough ecstatic by the find itself, the next feelings were that of duty.  How do we restore and protect this so that it lasts for another 125 years and honors all of those that served here?  We were fortunate to have a Stained Glass Association of America member only about an hour away!  Then were were presented with quite the dilemma.

I am the owner of the building and used extensive resources in acquisition and construction of the building thus far, but the duty to preserve a piece of history to this magnitude is so vital, that we hope to appeal to the assistance of others in preserving this for future generations.  With any renovation, the costs can quickly get out of hand.  The idea to restore a historic building in Downtown Waynesboro was certainly an ambitious one, but coupled with the delays of COVID-19 and the difficulty in procuring talented trade professionals during the pandemic, it has become a resource intensive endeavor.  Though there is no way we could put a price on saving such an important piece of history, we extended our budget to shore up the sign and it's original casing with aluminum supports and replaced the storefront glass and foundation below to ensure its stability.  Unfortunately, we don't have the funds available at this time to do a proper restoration on the stained glass.  After exploring many different options such as covering it in plexiglass (supply is constrained and the cost is much higher now due to shortages and its need for COVID safety measures), replacing it outright and donating the existing sign to a local historical preservation society (reproduction replacement costs exceeded $36,000), simply repairing the broken pieces and the sign as best as possible (only a 6 month guarantee that they would be effective), none of these ideas were practical or financially viable.  

We are asking for your support in raising $15,000 to cover the cost of restoring the sign fully and protecting it from physical damage with safety glass.  If our goal is met, we will be able to accomplish both of those tasks and ensure the glass will be protected and preserved for the community for generations to come.  Any funds in excess of the goal will go directly to construction costs associated with restoring this building to its former glory and to aid in the social mission driven coworking space that will occupy it.  We hope to have the funding to get this project started by mid-November, ultimately completed in December.  Fortuitously, the social mission of the coworking space that will be occupying the historic fire department no. 1 is to give back to community teachers, first responders, veterans and healthcare professionals.  What better place to give back to firefighters than a building that served their forefathers before them? 

Whether you are a history fan, Americana enthusiast, fire service supporter, local resident, are tired of seeing our precious history lost, or just want to give to a good cause, we can use your support.  The funds will go directly to a project that will make a lasting impression and impact in the community, honoring the brave men that served here, revitalization of the city's downtown corridor, and the region as a whole for generations to come.  Thank you in advance for your consideration and generosity in helping us save our history!

*A special thanks goes to The Waynesboro Fire Department, LT Rob Brown, The Waynesboro Heritage Foundation, and the Waynesboro Historical Commission for their assistance in discovering the history of this building!


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Nicklous Salzman 
Waynesboro, VA
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