PAWTUCKET — A former city fire station and landmark on Central Avenue that most recently housed the Hose Company No. 6 restaurant was demolished Friday as onlookers, some with tears in their eyes, watched as wrecking crews tore into the structure with a large excavator just before noon.
“It’s so sad,” said Jayn Mitchell, who’s brother-in-law, the late Paul Gaudette, owned the restaurant until his death in 2016. “My sister (Gaudette’s wife) tried to keep the restaurant going, but in the end it just didn’t work out.”
The restaurant, a popular local eatery with indoor and outdoor dining at 636 Central Avenue, closed in 2016. Gaudette was well-known in the city noted for being a member of the former Wild Turkey Band/Hometown Rockers.
Built in 1900, the building was the former Fire Station No. 6 in Pawtucket. When the fire station closed in the 1980s, the building housed a series of restaurants over the years, including the Hose Company No. 6 and the Peppermill Restaurant.
In 2017, Barone Capital LLC, who purchased the brick-exterior building, submitted a proposal to the Historic District Commission to knock down the building and construct a single-story Family Dollar on the land. The 23,000 square-foot lot would include parking and an 8,000-square-foot retail building.
“Just what we needed, another Family Dollar,” griped city resident Gary Graveline, 68, who stood across the street and watched as crews with Pasquazzi Bros. Demolition began dismantling the building.
“I grew up in Pinecrest and this building was an icon,” he said. “I remember back when it was a fire station. It’s too bad because I think there should have been some attempt made to save it because it did have some historical significance.”
Among the onlookers watching the demolition was a man who used to tend bar in one of the previous restaurants housed in the building over the years.
“It’s a shame because its the opinion of a lot of people that this was a historical landmark,” he said.
While the 117-year-old building had no local or national historic designation, any time there is a proposal to demolish 25 percent or more of a city building that is at least 50 years old, it is reviewed by the Historic District Commission. When Barone Capital presented its request to demolish the building in 2017 the commission members voted to delay demolition for at least six months to considered the building’s importance and history and try to persuade the owners to consider options for possible reuse.
The former fire station in the 1980s received a cast aluminum marker from the Preservation Society signifying its local significance. However, the markers do not signify local or national historic designation.
However, it appeared likely demolition was likely after Attorney Michael Horan, who represents Barone Capital LLC, told the city in 2017 that his clients had determined that the cost to make the necessary repairs to the existing building make it prohibitive for any future use due to its condition. He said a structural engineering report showing all of the building’s structural defects indicated estimates between $300,000 and $350,000 to make the necessary repairs.
“It’s so sad,” said Sophia Haider, who lives across the street. “I left this morning and it was still standing and when I got back they were tearing it down. I’m 23 and this building as been here as long as I’ve been here. It was a unique looking building and I’m kind of sad to see it go.”
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