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Ethan Allen Firehouse

Designed by local architect A.B. Fisher, the Ethan Allen Firehouse is a historic building which stands as a community landmark in downtown Burlington. Built in 1889, this heritage building is located in the Church Street Marketplace. The building features an 85-foot bell tower - a distinct signature of Burlington's skyline for more than 100 years. It was ranked as the tallest building in the city of Burlington in 1889. he Firehouse served not only as home to the Ethan Allen Engine Company No. 4, one of Burlington's seven volunteer fire departments, but also as a place for the members to socialize, break bread, and share ideas. In 1973, the building was scheduled for demolition due to its state of disrepair and insurmountable renovation costs. Because of the community protest, the Board of Aldermen diverted the demolition funds to stabilizing the building instead, and a partial renovation took place. In subsequent years, a number of service operations took up residence in the firehouse, including the Burlington Ecumenical Society, the offices of Senator Patrick Leahy, and the University of Vermont's Church Street Center. The initiation of Burlington City Arts in developing the concept of an arts center in the firehouse started in 1995. This made its way for the firehouse to become a perfect location for the Firehouse Gallery and the Arts Education Program. Some significant renovations were done in 2001. The return of the original bell from the Shelburne Museum confirmed the building's connection to the community and brought the journey of the firehouse full circle. Thus, the historic Ethan Allen Firehouse was transformed into the Firehouse Center for the Visual Arts and was partially opened to the public in 2002. Currently, all five floors of the Firehouse Center are open to the public. The foundation level boasts a state-of-the-art community darkroom, increased classroom space, and expanded education programs. The gallery level houses the newly renovated Firehouse Gallery. The remaining floors include a multi-media lecture hall and conference center, artist-in-residence studio, art library, and resource center. The Firehouse Center for the Visual Arts provides the region with a forum for ideas, discovery and creativity, and showcases works of contemporary art. It is programmed and managed by Burlington City Arts.