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Calcasieu Historical Preservation Society

The Snider Guest House: Fourth Ward Fire House 129 Dr. Michael DeBakey Drive at East Street

20190327 132547This charming two-story guest house started life as part of the rebuilding and improvement of Lake Charles after the Great Fire of 1910. The Fire, which destroyed much of the downtown wooden core of the City, resulted in the decision to rebuild better and stronger. Part of the plan was a series of new fire stations scattered throughout town. These stations were to be equipped and staffed for immediate remedy should fire break out anywhere. Post Fire, the streetcar lines were extended north, east and south to serve the new subdivisions like Margaret Place.

The area had been farmland and pasture, but by 1912 growth was sufficient to require a new firehouse for what was then Ward Four. A contract for $1,798 was won by local builders Barney and Woodson for a two-story station designed by architect I.C. Carter. The station was to be located at the corner of South Ryan and East Streets, on a rare triangular lot with access to both streets. The station was to serve the immediate area, including Margaret Place and areas as far west as St. Patrick Sanitarium and Barbe Pier.

By 1927, with the advance of motorized fire fighting equipment, the Fourth Ward Fire Station had outlived its usefulness. At the end, the horse-drawn steam engine located here and the firemen were reassigned, and the building was rented out commercially as a service station. First operated by Artemus Fullington, and later by Gilbert Fontenot, the building was known as the South Ryan Service Station. Later it was known as Klock’s Auto Repair. During this time, the second floor was used for a variety of purposes, including apartment rental, a used furniture store, and for a time, a commercial cannery.

In the Second World War, the site was sold by the City to private owners, who maintained it as mixed rental property until the mid 1960s, when the building faced a long period of virtual abandonment. In the 1980s, there was renewed interest in the area and the building. The structure began to be used as an art production studio by Kitty Clark, who operated “Something Else.” Later it served as a hair salon “Flash for Hair,” with the second floor used as a residence.By the 1990s, with the revival of interest and investment in the area, a string of inspired owners took steps to properly convert the property into a two-story residence. The fire pole had been removed a decade earlier, but the bones of the structure were solid and the location appealing. Upgrades included a reconstruction of the front entrance, a new access fire-escape staircase and a private courtyard in the rear. Interior appointments are stunning with a range of high-end amenities to convert what had been a utilitarian firehouse into a romantic and wonderful guest house belonging to the family of Drs. Van and Lisa Snyder.

(Data about the Fourth Ward Firehouse compiled by Dr. Van Snyder.) 

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