Tour the Old Ponce Firehouse Museum

The city of Ponce in Puerto Rico is a popular tourist destination, offering plenty for visitors to see and do. The eye-catching Old Ponce Firehouse Museum, located in Marina Street just off the Plaza de las Delicias, is likely one of the city’s most photographed tourist attractions. Painted in red and black stripes, the building has beautiful arched stained glass windows, houses a fascinating collection of exhibits, has a tourist information center in the foyer and is free of charge to visitors.

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The Old Ponce Firehouse, referred to locally as Parque de Bombas, was built in 1882 as the central feature for the twelve-day 1883 World Fair that was held in the city. The building had been designed by Maximo de Meana y Guridi with the intention of attracting attention, and has been doing so ever since. Guridi was a Spanish lieutenant who became mayor of Ponce the year after the fair, and at that time he handed the building over to the Ponce Fire Corps to become Puerto Rico’s first fire station. It served as the headquarters for the Ponce Firefighter Corps from 1883 through to 1989, and it was firefighters from this fire station that bravely fought the fire, known as “el polovorin”, which threatened to destroy the city on 25 January 1899.

In 1991, after the fire department moved to new premises, the building was turned into a museum. The ground floor of the building is wide open for people walking by to stop off and look at the various historical items, including an old vehicle, on display. A trip up the winding staircase to the second floor takes visitors to an area full of glass display stands with all manner of historical items, complete with informative labels. The interior of the building is decorated in wallpaper with stripes running from ceiling to floor, while the arched windows let the light stream in. Even the ceiling above the stairwell is decorated with a colorful design and the railing up the stairs and around the stairwell features an intricate design. Doors lead out on to a patio allowing visitors to look down on passers-by.

Tours of the building are offered both in Spanish and English and every Sunday night a music concert is presented by the local municipal band. If you should have the opportunity to visit Ponce, be sure to pay a visit to the Plaza de las Delicias, and take some time to explore the fascinating Old Ponce Firehouse Museum.