the handsome two-story brick building on his way to buy materials in East
One look inside the three fire-engine bays gave Mischak a vision of a
studio-home future, imagining the garage doors as the glass walls of a work
space. The couple bid on and won the building at auction in 2004, then
embarked on a three-year renovation.
They converted the 2,500-square-foot garage level into art studios and
the 2,500-square-foot upper level into a home. Key to their success was
finding the right collaborator. Architect Luke Mandle had just completed
his own renovation of a one-time motorcycle shop in Pawtucket, Rhode
Island, into an office for his firm, Two Ton Inc. Mandle, who worked as
an architect in California for eight years before moving to Rhode Island,
recalls, “There was a real affinity between us right from the start.”
The plan for the firehouse’s lower level was quite straightforward: turn
the three-bay garage into two large work spaces by building a center wall.
The transformation of the upper level was much more complicated. The
firefighters’ living quarters consisted of nine small bedrooms off a central
lounging area, plus a four-stall bathroom. A dropped ceiling made the
space seem tunnellike, and paint was peeling off most of the walls.
artists jerry mischak and Wendy Edwards (right) relax in front of the
1931 firehouse they renovated as a home and studio. The building’s three
garage doors were replaced with storefront window walls that line their
the kitchen island and lower
cabinets are stainless steel, while the
steel refrigerator is set in tall wooden
cabinets. In the bathroom (right), the
original wall and floor tile, sinks, and
slate shower stalls have been preserved
and new fittings were added.