Out of the Attic: The Hydraulion Engine


The Hydraulion Fire Company was organized in 1827, and in 1856 the companys new engine house was erected in the 200 block of North Royal St. This two-story structure on the east side of the block had a three-story hose tower in the rear and a stable in the adjacent lot to the north. It underwent multiple modifications, with changes to the interior brickwork in 1868 and replacement of much of the buildings front in 1872.
Joseph Hopkins drew up a new design for the front faade, which the local paper declared would be an architectural ornament to that part of the city, once complete. As work began, the old wall was found to be seriously damaged but due to legal disputes between the contractor and Hydraulion, it would be several months before the new front was completed.
In 1897, the Hydraulion Fire Company moved into a new engine house on North Patrick Street and the old facility fell into disrepair. In the early 1900s, around the time this photograph was taken, neighbors complained that the unused structure was an eyesore. After the Hydraulion Fire Company disbanded in 1903, its veterans wanted to acquire their old engine house as a meeting place. The city declined and sold it in 1908 to butcher Wilbert C. Baggett who used it briefly for cold storage before leasing it out.
Contractor Samuel D. DeVaughan purchased it in 1911 and used it for his offices, with traditional storefront windows and doors replacing the arched entrances on the first floor. The former firehouse at 209 North Royal St. was again remodeled for use as a home and today it remains a private residence.