The Storied History of Fire Station No. 6
The No. 6 Restaurant is housed within the old and historic former Fire Station No. 6 in the Chapin Park Local Historic District.
The firehouse stands on an angular shaped piece of property of a third acre on the edge of the former St. Joseph County Agriculture Fairgrounds and on land that was part of Camp Rose, a Civil War training camp for Union soldiers.
Originally called ‘Hose House No. 6’, the nineteenth-century Queen Anne style firehouse was designed by local architect Charles Brehmer. On August 23, 1897, the South Bend Common Council awarded prominent South Bend and German-American contractor Bernhard H. Neitzel the contract to build Hose House No. 6. Mr. Neitzel had submitted the lowest bid of $2,695.50.
The building was completed the following winter and occupied on March 9, 1898.
Resources allocated for the firehouse consisted of five firemen including Capt. Swintz and a Studebaker wagon, or hose cart pulled by two horses. The firemen’s sleeping quarters were located upstairs with five brass bedsteads and individual lockers plus the hayloft with the horses stabled on the ground floor. The tower in the center of the building was used for hanging the fire hoses to dry after each use.
A 1906 Fire Department inventory shows the following for Hose House No. 6: 1 Studebaker Wagon ($500); 2 horses ($425).
By May of 1921 the change to motorized fire trucks was completed and the horses and wagons were sold.
The former fire station was in continuous use until December 1967.
In the second half of the 1950s and throughout the 1960s, the station housed the only white-colored fire engine in the department fleet, a 1,000-gallon 1955 Mack pumper truck purchased for $18,000. In addition, Fire Station No. 6 was one of the last stations to have a brass pole slide.
In January 1968, the South Bend Civic Theatre, Inc., leasing the former firehouse from the city for a dollar a year, took over the maintenance of the building for use as a theatre with the promise to preserve it as an historical site.
On October 24, 1977, the South Bend Common Council approved a bill that made the firehouse a Local Historic Landmark in addition to it being in the federally recognized Chapin Park Local Historic District administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The building, now dubbed The Firehouse, quickly became the first permanent home of the theatre gaining a new lease on life and quickly setting about producing quality local theatre on a regular schedule. The Firehouse had a long history of producing theatrical productions for nearly 48 years in an intimate setting seating up to 82 patrons. The building was then used as a secondary space until the theatre moved to a new location in 2007.
In 2017, the city placed the property up for sale having no longer a need for it.
Amanda Shutts-Crowne officially took possession of the historic building. Amanda completed the No. 6 Restaurant on June 4, 2021 fulfilling her long-held dream of opening a modern scratch kitchen restaurant using locally sourced products.
Renovating the building from a theatre and before that a fire station to a restaurant took some three and a half years with work completed in May 2021. Throughout the renovation of the building, the H.G. Christman Construction Company, Inc. maintained full compliance with local and national guidelines and standards for historic preservation and development.
Compiled and Written by John R. Timmons, Grandson of Mr. Bernhard H. Neitzel