Landmark building turns historic 100

Published 8:12 pm Friday, July 20, 2012

Bill Sykes (left) and Scott Campbell, owners of Fire Station Lofts, were awarded a plaque recognizing the historical significance of their building on Market and Third streets from Dee Congleton, Washington Area Historical Foundation vice president. Betty Jane Green, chairwoman of the plaque committee, was not available for the photograph. (WDN Photo/Vail Stewart Rumley)

A piece of Washington history was recognized Friday when a former shirt factory, fire station, fledgling community college and now private residence was the recipient of a plaque commemorating the building’s century mark.

Dee Congleton, vice president of the Washington Area Historic Foundation, presented the plaque to the building’s owners, Scott Campbell and Bill Sykes. They plan to affix the plaque to the exterior brick wall between two former fire-engine bays.

To qualify for recognition, a structure must be at least 100 years old and of historic or architectural significance, said Campbell. For some owners, the written proof of the date of the building’s construction or reference in local tax records required to gain historic status is hard to come by, but not so for Campbell.

“Dating the fire station building was an easy task,” said Campbell. “There is a cornerstone at Market and Third (streets) stating 1912 as the construction date.”

During the process of filling out an application for historical status, Campbell discovered the building’s many uses over the years, which includes home of Beaufort County Technical Institute, the forerunner to Beaufort County Community College.

Its longest-running use, however, was as Washington’s Fire Station No. 1 from 1924 until 1964, and when Campbell and Sykes purchased part of the second floor of the building in 2006, they named their new home Fire Station Lofts in deference to the building’s past. The firemen’s living quarters and the community dance hall are now home to three residential loft condominiums.

The foundation has been recognizing historical sites since 1976. The plaque recognizing Washington Fire Station No. 1 is the 45th-such plaque to be distributed in Washington, said Congleton.