The explosion in the growth of Uptown Harrisburg in the last two decades of the 19th Century required the construction of a new fire station, the first to be located north of Reily Street. On July 11, 1885, the Reily Hose Company was organized and operated from a stable on Wood Street, located between Fifth and Sixth Street. A month later it officially became part of the City's fire station system and received the designation as "No. 10." In 1889, recognizing the need for a larger facility, Harrisburg's Reily family donated a plot of ground to the company at Sixth and Dauphin Streets where a frame firehouse was immediately erected. This served the Company until 1899 when the City constructed the present building on the same site, a two story brick, Italianate-styled edifice complete with a beautifully designed bell tower. The Company remained mostly volunteer until 1970 when paid city fire fighters were brought on board. The building was discontinued as a fire station in 1980 and was sold for private use when two new state-of-the-art fire stations came on line. In 1991, the City again assumed ownership of the property, this time for the creation of the Pennsylvania National Fire Museum, a truly unique commemoration to the history of fire-fighting in the Commonwealth and nation. Undertaken as the initiative of the Mayor, with improvements funded by the City, the museum effort resulted in the splendid restoration and expansion of the building, the first-ever facility of its kind in the region. Considered a classic architectural representation of the grand, turn-of-the-century American firehouse, the museum contains a variety of firefighting memorabilia, including the oldest fire apparatus in the United States, a 1790's hand-operated pump cart.
1900 view of the Reily Fire Station shortly after construction.
1899 dedication of the Reily Fire Station as depicted by artist Landis Brent Whitsel.