PaperCity Magazine

October 2017- Houston

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128 to be customized. A too-narrow staircase meant furniture had to be craned into second-floor windows. To signal a transition from the historic first-floor environs to the private areas above, Finger mixed new materials with existing old ones. She hung a contemporary glass- and-brass chandelier in the stairwell, and glass panels on the staircase and in the hallway divide space and let light in. Black marble clads the fireplace, with brass detailing by local artisan James Dawson. In the kitchen, there are white marble counters and old black stone from Chateau Domingue on the floor. "It feels like you are in a loft apartment in Soho," Finger says. "It's clean and white, but we tried to keep it homey." To cozy up the library, she painted it a deep aubergine, and covered the windows and a custom sofa in aubergine Holly Hunt fabric. Bookshelves in the hallway were designed from lumber salvaged from abandoned buildings in the neighborhood, and in the dining room, Finger commissioned a large wood table from Ben Baron and Jose Martinez of HTX Made, young artisans who recently set up shop in a warehouse next door to the fire station. Much of the artwork and decorative pieces, such as African masks and antique zebra hide rug, came from the couple's stints abroad with the Peace Corps. "We have a lot of eclectic things," Whitlock says. "We wanted the space to reflect our personalities — and to make sure it was a little quirky." Downstairs, they paid homage to the fire station's history without going overboard. Still, they had a little fun with it — after all, the space is often used for fund-raisers and other events. An antique water hose, like the kind used on old fire-fighting engines, is displayed under a custom glass-topped table. The color red is used sparingly, but effectively: In the entry, a custom bench is decked out in red Cortina cowhide. The powder bath light fixtures hang from crimson ropes, and the kitchen faucet gleams red. Whitlock and Skelly moved into Fire Station No. 2 in 2015 and immediately began integrating it into the neighborhood. "One of our main goals was to keep the fire station accessible to the public, since it had once been a mainstay of the community and was a historic building," Whitlock says. They've hosted neighborhood groups, a wedding, corporate retreats, and political fund-raisers. The antique fire poles, which bear marks from decades of fire fighters sliding down in their gear, are a crowd favorite. "We've had the Houston fire chief go down, and a candidate for senate go down. Everyone takes a turn," says Whitlock. Fire Station No. 2, along with the six Victorian houses in the back, are now woven into the fabric of the community in ways they never envisioned. One Victorian was sold to a young artist, and others have been rented out. A woman down the street was so inspired by all the neighborly goodwill that she, too, saved a couple of old houses and moved them onto her property. When Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, Whitlock and Skelly opened the fire station to an immigrant family and moved a disabled woman and her elderly mother into one of the Victorians. Skelly encouraged his Facebook friends to do to do the same, and many did, opening their doors to strangers in need. Whitlock reflects on the chain reaction their restoration project has had. "It took 10 times as long and twice as much money," she says, "but it's been 100 times greater than we ever imagined." Upstairs, custom sofa in Holly Hunt Great Plains. Original beadboard ceiling was painted white. Custom brass fireplace details created by James Dawson. Original wood pillar. Antique brass fire pole.

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