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'This is a really historic moment' | Minneapolis designates all-Black fire station as a landmark

Fire Station #24 was a segregated fire station in Minneapolis, comprised exclusively of Black firefighters.

MINNEAPOLIS — A historic building at 45th and Hiawatha in Minneapolis once housed Fire Station #24. 

"I started an effort to preserve the building contacting city officials," said LaJune Lane, who served as the Fourth Judicial District Court Judge for the State of Minnesota.  

Lange helped spearhead the effort to save the former firehouse - comprised exclusively of Black firefighters. It opened in 1907 with John Cheatham, serving as the city's first Black fire captain.

She says this comes at a time when firefighters refused to sleep in beds that had been occupied by Black firefighters during prior shifts.

"Some segments of the fire department and community were opposed, but we had 60 women come forward and say we feel safe," she said.

And recently, the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission held a public hearing to designate the site as a landmark, with the Minneapolis City Council voting to unanimously approve the historic title in January.

"We've been going full board for two years to get things done and we are so excited, I have met with the owner and he is very enthusiastic," said Lange.

"We're really proud of this fire station and all of the contributions of our Black firefighters, protecting our community, and this is a really historic moment," said Ward 12 Councilmember, Andrew Johnson, during a council meeting last month.

When the firehouse closed in 1941, Lange says there weren't African Americans on the Minneapolis Fire Department for decades. Lange worked on a federal lawsuit forcing the Minneapolis Fire Department to open its hiring process to minorities in the 1970's, and says today there's progress.

"There's now a Black fire chief, he's the second one," she said. "This comes full circle, to have the firefighters lawsuit in the 70's, so it's been very, very interesting," she said.

Lange says she is working with the City of Minneapolis's community planning and economic development (CPED) on a citywide survey to find and salvage significant locations prominent in the African-American community.

Lange says she is also working with Minneapolis African-American professional firefighters to create community programs for the youth.

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