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The Firehouse Gallery was originally called the Citizen's Hook and Ladder, and was built after a fire destroyed the city's Baptist church, on Church Street in 1885. The year it was built can be seen in the stone above its windows.
The Citizen's Hook and Ladder company initially housed a ladder truck, and interviews with previous fire chiefs and firemen report that its original membership was limited to the town's doctors, lawyers, and large land-owners. After the first generation of members passed on, its membership was opened to all Bordentown residents.
The building had 1 large bay for the ladder truck, a hole cut into a rear wall to accommodate the ladders, and two meeting rooms on the second floor. Evidence of a horse stall remains within the walls of its first floor bathroom. With the advent of gasoline vehicles, the front of the building was widened, and a concrete floor replaced the original wooden one.
The building fell into disuse around 1966, and was purchased in 1969 for $5000 by Juanita Crosby, who called it "The Firehouse Gallery of Juanita Crosby" and converted it into a classroom for area students. It operated successfully for 25 years, with few alterations to the building except for the removal of its bell tower due to ceiling leaks.
In 1994, Eric Gibbons bought the building from Ms. Crosby and made major conversions, renaming it "The Firehouse Gallery of Bordentown" and turning the single garage into two rooms, adding bathrooms, and converting the upper meeting rooms into his living space.
Studio and exhibitions
From 1994 through 2004, monthly art exhibitions were held in the space with rotating group and solo exhibitions. In 1996 a solo exhibition and retrospective was held for Hugh Romney (Wavy Gravy). As of 2005, the increasing international popularity of Mr. Gibbons' work led him to make the gallery his exclusive studio. The gallery continues to represent a smaller stable of artists as well as volunteers, interns and helpers who help promote its various missions.
In 2011, The Firehouse Gallery opened Firehouse Publishing, focusing on educational and fine arts titles like The Art Student's Workbook, Sketchbook 101, and The Art of Teaching.
As of 2012, the gallery still hosts classes for both children and adults year round and has been running a summer art camp program since 1995 under the direction of Mr. Gibbons.