OGDEN — A boring beige garage door?
Such a paint job might fly on some houses but not this one. On a home that was once a real live fire station, nothing but a fire-engine red door will do.
And that’s exactly what color Larry Carr has painted the bay of former Ogden Fire Station No. 2, now his residence and one of several homes highlighted on Saturday’s Weber County Heritage Foundation Historic House Tour.
The house’s history sets the tone for much of its current look, from the antique fire nozzle hanging on the living room wall to the old fireman’s boots in the garage. There’s a metal fireman on the weather vane and even a 27-foot flagpole in the front yard, because, as Carr says, “There had to have been a flagpole — it was a firehouse, for heaven’s sake.”
Just don’t go looking for the fireman’s pole in this one-story brick house nestled in a cozy neighborhood on Ogden’s upper 25th Street.
“You need an upstairs to have a pole and there isn’t one,” Carr quips. Even so, he adds, “Ninety-five percent of the people I talk to about this, they will ask that question: ’Where’s the pole?’ ”
Red is the standout color for the house which boasts a red front door, red curtains and director’s chairs, a red park bench, and, once upon a time, when Carr’s granddaughters were younger, red bunk beds.
This Ogden native, who bought the house 12 years ago, agrees that there’s a certain air of romance associated with an old fire station.
“There is to me — it’s enchanting to me,” Carr says while showing off the garage where fire engines once parked.
In the limelight
The Historic Home Tour is an annual event that spotlights Weber County houses. This year’s show lists six homes, including Carr’s, and two businesses on Ogden’s East Bench.
The Carr residence, 1585 25th St., is a great example of adaptive reuse or changing the style of a structure formerly used as one thing into something else, says Brandon Topance, tour co-chairman.
“That’s very unique; that’s not something you see everywhere, a fire station turning into a home,” Topance says.
Carr says his home has been on the tour before, but not since he’s been the owner. But he is used to the 1927 structure attracting attention, like folks knocking on his door to ask if they can look inside or if they can take family portraits in front of his red and white garage door.
“I take people through all the time,” Carr says. “That’s why I make my bed every day.”
Carr sleeps in one of the two small bedrooms that used to be staffed with two shifts or “platoons” of firemen. For 40 years, the station protected homes on the East Bench until more modern stations were built in 1968 on 21st Street and on Harrison Boulevard.
An old photograph on Carr’s living room wall shows firefighters standing in front of the station. That and the nozzle on the wall were there when he bought the house; he also found another nozzle in the home.
In the living room, which once served as the day room for the firefighters, Carr added a distinctive pressed metal ceiling. The new owner also remodeled the tiny kitchen, adding new countertops, sink and refrigerator.
At 800 square feet, the house is tiny but comfy. Carr jokes that he can’t ever marry again because, “There’s not enough closet space for me, let alone for two people, especially a woman.”
Downstairs, in what used to be the furnace room, the former Autoliv employee and professional photographer has set up a darkroom.
“I call this my happy place,” the 75-year-old says as he leads the way down the steep stairs.
Many of his black-and-white photos line the walls of the garage, offering glimpses of Carr’s sojourns everywhere from Monument Valley to the streets of Paris.
Carr replastered the walls of the former engine bay and now uses the space as a photography studio, a carpentry shop, a storage area for numerous bicycles and skis, and a spot to park his Ford Ranger — red, naturally.
The garage also makes a great rehearsal hall for the trombone aficionado, a member of the Ogden Concert Band, and his horn-playing pals.
The door — which rolls up to open — is old but not original. Carr says the firehouse used to have two doors that were hinged on either side and opened out.
An original concrete marker engraved with “O.F.D. 2” can still be seen on the wall above the 11-foot door.
Over the years, Carr has met a couple of firefighters who once worked at the station and shared some of their memories with him.
“It’s part of Ogden; it’s part of Ogden’s history,” he says. “And I’m sure to a lot of people whose homes were saved by the efforts of the firemen, they’re glad it was here.”
Piece of history
A few years back, Carr and his house were featured in the HGTV program “ReZoned,” which spotlights buildings like barns and schoolhouses that have been converted into private homes. His episode can still be found on YouTube.
One day, this Ogdenite hopes to get his unique house listed on the National Register of Historic Places so it can be permanently protected.
“Ogden city has a way of tearing anything down that has any historical significance whatsoever,” Carr says, listing off such long-gone buildings as the old Broom Hotel and the Orpheum Theater. “How this escaped, I’m amazed. I’m really glad that it did.”
Visitors on Saturday’s home tour will no doubt notice all the touches of red, including an antique red fire extinguisher.
“Somebody” — Carr says he has no idea who — “just left it on my front porch.”
The red color scheme has even carried over to Carr’s 22-foot sailboat, the Shrimp Noodle, parked outside. The boat used to have yellow trim but, it, too, has been painted.
As Carr says, “I like red a lot better.”