The Hose 22 Firehouse has been standing on Stutson Street since 1916, built right next to the already existing Charlotte police station. The groundbreaking took place on April 4th, and the official opening ceremonies were on October 25th, 1916, some 93 years ago. The City of Rochester paid $1,800 for the lot, with a projected construction cost of $18,000. This new brick firehouse was the crown jewel of Stutson Street, with its intricate facade and grand architecture. Just down the unpaved road would eventually be the Stutson Street Bridge, built a year later in 1917.
The Baldwin Engine and Hose Company combined with Charlotte Hook and Ladder Company under the name Hose Company No. 22, and resided on Stutson Street until 1962. When the R.F.D. Hose 22 closed, it moved Engine 19 and Truck 11 down the road to their new home across from Charlotte High School, a much more modern facility.
For the last 47 years the building has virtually stood empty, occasionally leased out by the city to groups such as Rochester Helping Hands, or access provided to firemen to work on fire apparatus in their spare time and reminiscing about the glory days. Later it provided some protection for the homeless and vandals who stripped the building clean. Then a fire broke out in the vacant building, severely damaging all the floors, ceiling and roof in front of the building. You could actually stand inside the front door and look up at the stars. Evidence of this still can be seen on some scorched bricks on the second floor. The building was then boarded up and the pigeons took over.
Fast forward to November 2007, when local contractor Craig Ristuccia fought hard to win the bid to purchase the firehouse and convert it into the restaurant it is today. He was determined to see the building brought back to its original beauty by restoring it the right way. Over a two-year period the building has been gutted, every window and door painstakingly replaced, with tin ceilings added and floors repaired and refinished, all while paying attention to the tiniest details. A new slate roof and copper gutters were added, the fire poles replaced, even the wrought iron balcony out front has been meticulously replicated. All the restorations were done based off old photos of the building.
An outreach to the community has yielded some incredible donations of historical photos and memorabilia. Most importantly some fascinating stories of the glory days of Hose Company 22 have been shared. It has been a labor of love, and the community interest and support has been extremely motivating. So here’s a tribute to the men who served here, the people they protected, and Charlotte . . . a community rich in history.