Shut-down fire stations to be renovated; turned into community centers
BATON ROUGE - The old firehouse on Laurel Street has been abandoned and boarded up for years. A new initiative, The Firehouse Project, looks to change that.
The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge partnered with Mid City Redevelopment Alliance and the Scotlandville High School Alumni Association want to renovate and repurpose that fire station as well as others.
The goal is to turn them into art and cultural centers for surrounding communities.
"When art centers move into neighborhoods, grocery store gets a facelift, the church down the street increases its membership, the gas station on the corner increases its business," Margie Reese, a consultant for Mid City Redevelopment, said. "In cities across America, the arts are seen as economic engines in neighborhoods."
Local artists were on hand to showcase their work at Scotlandville's District 16 fire station. They are expected to be play a key role in the renovations.
"Baton Rouge is a creative city. So the three fire stations we're looking are rich in history," Reese said. "Bringing that back so the community can see life again and so artists can come in and be creative."
During the open house, the public also visited the Art Council's headquarters on Laurel Street to hear about ongoing activities that the program is fostering.
In 2016, the trio received a grant from J.P. Morgan Chase to explore renovations and revitalization.
"We want to see neighbors feel encouraged again," Reese said. "We want them to look up at their lives not down. We want kids to know that education is important and that their voices are powerful and that these communities can be revived."