Stanwood’s Leatherheads Pub resuscitates 1929 fire station

STANWOOD — Career fireman Devin Curley considers himself a FOOL — a member of the Fraternal Order Of Leatherheads, that is.

Leatherhead was the nickname given firefighters back when their iconic high-crowned, beavertail helmets were fashioned from tough, waterproofed leather.

The Stanwood-Camano firefighter takes this bit of history seriously. Firefighting traditions are so important to him that he’s even learning to play bagpipes in order to join the Snohomish County Firefighters Pipes and Drums corps.

And now Curley, 27, has the perfect place to hang out on his days off.

A former fire station in Stanwood has been turned into a pub.

Curley’s colleagues, Capt. Erich Schweiger, 46, and paramedic Chad McCoy, 35, opened Leatherheads Pub and Eatery a few months ago in the former Stanwood Volunteer Fire Department hall.

“It’s really cool. They have good food and good music, and firefighters from all over are joining us there,” Curley said. “It’s great when we get together.”

The walls of the pub are lined with fire helmets and fire department patches from around the world. There are collections of firefighting equipment, old uniforms, hydrants, hose couplings, nozzles, sirens, toy firetrucks, historic photos, a tribute to the New York Fire Department and memorabilia from Curley’s Leatherheads society.

The stainless-steel bar looks like the tailboard of a fire truck, the dining area is separated by railings made of fire ladders, and soon a replacement firepole will be installed in the slide hole from upstairs to down.

Historic preservation

The pub is a nice example of what can be accomplished through historic preservation, said Karen Prasse of the Stanwood Area Historical Society. Historic preservation is important to maintain a community’s sense of place and appreciation for its past, she said.

“It was great that Erich and Chad were able to find a use for the building that didn’t interfere with its history, because that will keep the building alive for many more years,” Prasse said. “It is the ultimate effort in recycling. It also helped them create an identity to promote their business, being firemen with their own fire station. Now they just need the pole.”

That’s on a long list of to-do items still on the minds of McCoy and Schweiger. It took the firemen three years to gut the fire hall, refurbish it and open the pub, and the work isn’t over yet.

“The firehouse was built at the start of the Great Depression, and it’s open again in the current recession,” McCoy said. “Maybe not the best time to open a business, but we’re doing pretty well. The news about this place has really spread by word of mouth.”

Schweiger and McCoy are proud they honored their commitment to the city to preserve the historic building and keep it open to the public.

“We have a lot of passion for our work in the fire department and for the history and traditions of firefighting,” Schweiger said. “Helping people is addicting.”

McCoy and Schweiger got help themselves during their three-year effort to open the pub.

Community effort

Stanwood High School welding students built Leatherheads’ outside exit stairway, its lobby floor mural and the remake of the old initials for the volunteer fire department for the front of the building.

James Reinhardt designed and made the badgelike Leatherheads sign, set on charred wood, at the entrance to the pub. Edward Trobec did the bronze cast of the date 1929, the year of the building’s construction. And many friends, family members and firefighters lent a hand, painting walls red and staining the old foot-thick concrete floor.

Schweiger has an old fire engine he wants to display in the building, and McCoy hopes to talk Stanwood Lions Club members into occasionally driving their vintage 1935 Ford fire engine over to its old home.

St. Patrick’s plans

A fiddle player with the South End String Band, Schweiger has enjoyed lining up entertainment, which has included a variety of bands and benefits.

Last week Camano Island firefighter Robert Shelley, “Mr. February,” autographed the 2010 calendar from the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters Burn Foundation.

“The pub was crowded that night,” McCoy said. “And it should be on St. Patrick’s Day for corned beef and cabbage. We’re not short ideas, it’s just a matter of finding time to do it all.”

At Leatherheads, kids are welcome until 9 p.m., and seniors, military personnel, firefighters and police officers receive a 10 percent discount on food.

The standard pub fare menu includes Firehouse chili, the Flashover burger, the Leatherheads clubhouse and the Backdraught burger.

The pub already is drawing firemen from throughout Western Washington.

“It really shows how much of a family firefighters are,” Curley said. “Leatherheads is the place we call our own.”

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427, gfiege@heraldnet.com.

Pipe, drum corps plays tonight

The Snohomish County Firefighters Pipes and Drums corps plans to perform at 6 tonight at Leatherheads Pub and Eatery, 10209 270th St. NW, Stanwood. More info: 360-629-5555; www. leatherheadspub.com.

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