As Regent Education employees settle into their new home in Frederick’s Union Mills building, the historic building they left behind is getting a makeover in anticipation of having five new commercial tenants.
Known today as the Firehouse Financial Center, the brick structure at 12 W. Church St. was built in 1846 to house the operations of Independent Hose Company No. 1. Over the years it underwent several renovations to both the exterior and interior and most recently housed the Regent Education headquarters.
Brandon Cannon, a senior associate with Ruppert Properties, said his company purchased the building in June with plans to turn it into five new office suites. He expects the building to be move-in ready in early March.
“We are pre-leasing now,” Cannon said. “We are hoping to find some maybe tech companies, finance companies, higher-end professional groups.”
The renovation plans include changes to the facade, which the city’s Historic Preservation Commission approved Dec. 14, as well as interior changes to accommodate the separate offices. Regent Education was formerly the only tenant in the building.
The exterior changes include the removal of a No. 1 above the front entrance that once signified the number associated with the fire company. Cannon said the owners plan to replace it with a 12 for the building’s address, which he expects will eliminate confusion.
“We figured that would be easier,” he said.
He promised to install numbers of the same size and caliber as the one in place.
Cannon also said the front glass, which now depicts an etching of a firetruck, will be replaced with regular solid glass and new lamps will be installed on the outside of the building.
The Historic Preservation Commission questioned whether the number 1 was historically significant at a Nov. 9 workshop. According to the staff report for the project, the number on the building now looks different than it did in a picture from the 1970s, thus proving it was put up since and does not have historic significance.
The commissioners also wanted to ensure the new glass in the front would be solid and not contain any tint or glaze. Several of the commissioners commented that they did not like the etching, which the staff report says was added in 1987, and were not sad to see it go.
Cannon also said he plans to eventually change the name of the building and remove the Firehouse Financial Center moniker.
“We said we’d name it ‘The Firehouse,’ but we’re still kind of looking at names,” he said. “We didn’t want ‘Financial Center’ to deter non-financial users.”
Independent Hose Company No. 1, originally known as Frederick Hose Company, was organized in 1818 and is known as the oldest volunteer fire company in Maryland. From 1846 to 1978, it operated from the 12 W. Church St. building, according to the company’s website.
The building underwent major renovations in both 1895 and 1940, according to the Historic Preservation Commission staff report. It also underwent renovations in 2008, when East Fifth Street LLC bought it for $1.1 million. According to records from the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation, Ruppert Properties bought the building in late June for $900,000. In November, the company created Frederick Firehouse LLC, which is now listed as the owner of the building.
Regent Education employees held a ribbon-cutting Wednesday at their new headquarters in the renovated Union Mills building on East Patrick Street.