Fire House Museum: A Short History

By: Anne Dyni

When Boulder County created the Niwot Historic District in 1993, nine buildings were declared historically significant because of their age, importance in the town’s development, and relatively unaltered appearance. When researching such districts, it is rare to overlook an eligible building. But that is exactly what happened in Niwot.

Although the town’s first firehouse was built in 1910, few were aware of its existence because it had spent its last 24 years indoors. Many in town knew it in the 1970s and 1980s as Floyd Edmund’s office inside the Niwot Auction House on Second Avenue. It later served as Jim Knoch’s office when the building became the Niwot Antique Emporium.

Floyd Edmunds had built his business next to Wise Buys Antiques where the Livingston Hotel stood before being razed in the 1970s. Years before, the hotel proprietors had dragged the abandoned firehouse to the back of their hotel where it became a laundry shed. It was then that its swinging doors were removed and a standard door installed.

Floyd’s wife Carolyn was intrigued by the old building and wanted it preserved, so it was incorporated within the auction house as it was being built. That presented a dilemma when RLET Properties LLC purchased the building in 1997. Manager Cotton Burden offered the structure to the Niwot Historical Society, but everyone wondered if the firehouse could be safely moved.

With the help of volunteers, it was successfully separated into six pieces and hauled across the street to be reassembled next to the Left Hand Grange hall. When the Niwot Historical Society applied to the Boulder County Commissioners for landmarking, they required a signed agreement from the Grange assuring that the firehouse could remain on their property indefinitely. On October 26, 1999, a 99-year lease was signed and the commissioners approved the landmarking unanimously.

The firehouse is now part of the Niwot Historic District and like the other nine contributing buildings in the district, it bears a bronze plaque describing its date of construction and original use.