The old Fairborn Firehouse #1 traces its roots to the 19th Century. Photo courtesy of the Fairborn Area Historical Society

Local brewery targets historic Fairborn firehouse for 2nd location

The owners of a Vandalia brewery have decided where they intend to open their second craft brewery and tasting room — and their choice has Fairborn officials smiling, well, broadly.

The old Fairborn Firehouse #1 traces its roots to the 19th Century. Photo courtesy of the Fairborn Area Historical Society
Photo: Staff Writer

Hairless Hare Brewery co-founders Mike Legg and Matt Harris confirmed to this news outlet today that they intend to open “The Hairless Hare Olde Firehouse Brewery” in a former Fairborn firehouse at 29 N. Broad St. in downtown Fairborn.

PHOTO GALLERY: Inside Fairborn’s old Fire Station #1

“This is a great opportunity, a unique building,” Harris said. “We’ve been talking with Fairborn city officials for six months now about this. Fairborn is very good to work with, and we’re impressed with their plans for downtown.”

A brewpub was one of the leading options that emerged for the historic firehouse, which was built more than a century ago but has been vacant for more than a decade.

RELATED: The story of Fairborn’s first fire station

The structure has a long, rich history. It was built as a schoolhouse in 1884 in what was then the village of Fairfield, replacing three smaller schools in adjoining Bath Township. It later served as a city hall and fire station for Fairfield, and after Fairfield merged with Osborn to become Fairborn in 1950, the building was dedicated as a firehouse and was renamed Fairborn Fire Station #1.

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The fire station was shut down in 2007 when the new Fairborn Fire Department Station #1 was completed four blocks away.

Michael Gebhart, Fairborn’s assistant city manager, said city officials concluded a few years ago that a brewpub would be a strong option for potential re-use of the historic building.

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“Hairless Hare is an award-winning brewery, and their business plan was spot-on and jelled well with the re-use of the building,” Gebhart said. “This is a big win for us to bring in such a high-quality brewery and to keep the historic firehouse the way it is. … It’s the best fit for them, and it’s the best fit for the community.”

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Plans are still in the early stages, but if all goes well, the new Hairless Hare Olde Firehouse Brewery would open as early as spring 2018, with a taproom and kitchen upstairs, and the brewery on the first floor, Harris said. It will seat an estimated 100, and will create 12 to 14 new jobs, he said.

And local beer enthusiasts can look forward to more Hairless Hare brewpubs. “It’s always been our business plan to add locations,” Harris said. Hairless Hare opened its Vandalia brewery at 738 W. National Road in 2013.

Hairless Hare brewery scores 2 gold medals

Earlier this year, the brewery scored four medals, including two gold medals, for its beers in the 2017 Alltech Commonwealth Cup, an international beer competition based in Lexington, Ky.