The demolition of the fire station at 700 Oak Grove Ave. in downtown Menlo Park on Monday, Nov. 28, was a necessary step before construction could begin on a new station set to open in May of 2018.
A longtime resident of that station during duty hours, retired Menlo Park Fire Protection District firefighter Dave Carr, was there to see its return to dust. "This was like my second home" Mr. Carr said.
Mr. Carr recalled the hand-painted sign for the doorbell that was his handiwork, the windows and floors he had regularly cleaned. "We took pride in how it looked, (and) it's kind of hard to watch it go," he said. "I wanted to be here to see this."
Firefighters tend to see fire stations as second homes, complete with neighbors and regular visitors who stop by and talk, Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.
"When we got the word that the contractor was going to start demolition today, we knew we needed to do two things," he said. "Memorialize it on film and video, and call Dave because nobody, and I do mean nobody, had worked there as long as 'downtown Dave Carr' had."
A new beginning
In place of this single-story red-brick station that dates from 1953 will be a larger two-story station, with an exterior of red brick and tan stucco, according to plans approved by the district's governing board.
The new station will have drive-through bays so fire engines won't have to be backed in. Firefighters on duty will have sleeping quarters on the second floor.
Because the district bought the plot next door, the property is now large enough to accommodate a single-story museum to display fire trucks from the 1930s and 1950s and a hose wagon from 1900. A separate carriage house with a gable roof and bell tower, now at the fire district's Middlefield Road headquarters, will be moved to the new station.
The company building the new station, and the lowest qualified bidder, according to Chief Schapelhouman, is general contractor Gonsalves and Stronck Construction Co. of San Carlos for a price not to exceed $7.5 million.