Cortland Fire Department History

At a time when many municipalities are replacing aging civic buildings with modern facilities, the City of Cortland stands out for its concerted effort to allocate public funds to restore its Main Fire Station. The fire house, a Flemish Revival-style building, has occupied a prominent spot in downtown Cortland since its construction in 1914, and is one of the few National Register-listed fire stations still in active operation. Over the years, as modern fire-fighting equipment changed, the functional effectiveness of the Main Street Station diminished. Meanwhile, time took its toll on the building's exterior masonry and gable parapets.

In the early 1990's, the City of Cortland considered constructing a new fire station. But recognizing the building's significance as a local landmark and its contribution to the architectural character of downtown Cortland, the city resolved to create a master plan for a future addition to the building, and to rehabilitate the existing structure for continued community services as a fire station. Forming the effective team to save the building were Mayor Ronald T. Walsh, Jr., the Common Council, the Cortland Fire Department, and the Office of Administration and Finance, among other agencies.

Between 1995 and 1996, a careful restoration was undertaken of the facade, gables, and cast stone trim. To date, the cost of these efforts has exceeded $200,000, and more work is planned for the building once funds become available. The project, funded entirely with local revenues, has elicited interest in several other communities.

Architects have come from as far away as Indiana to see this building," says Dennis M. Baron, Chief of Cortland's Fire Department. In Cortland they witnessed that the preservation of historic resources is within the reach of all municipalities where cooperation and commitment exist.