The Firehouse Restaurant is located in historic Old Sacramento along the city’s riverfront, which in the mid-1800s was known as the “gateway to the goldfields.” Prior to the development of the transcontinental railroad, ships filled with dry goods, mining tools, immigrant labor, and visitors stopped at the riverfront on a weekly basis. During its heyday, Old Sacramento was a bustling business community, home to financiers and heads of state.
In 1850, Sacramento organized California’s first fire department. After two major fires resulted in extensive damage to the area, a new brick firehouse was built to house the Fire Chief and volunteer crew of Engine Company No. 3. In 1872, the Legislature made this company the state’s first paid fire department. In 1921, the building was abandoned for a larger facility, and was sold to a private party in 1923. A succession of owners and tenants were custodians of the building until its purchase by Newton Cope in 1959. By that time, the once bustling riverfront area had deteriorated into a slum, which was scheduled for demolition to make way for construction of Interstate 5 along the river. Concerned citizens heavily lobbied the State Department of Transportation and the freeway route was moved one and a half blocks east to its current location, creating the National Historic District of Old Sacramento. Mr. Cope undertook a major facelift on the firehouse building, converting it into a small bar and restaurant reminiscent of the Gold Rush Era. This was the first building renovation of the new Historic District.
Our official opening day in 1960 was a showcase of Victorian art and elaborate antiques all housed within our elegant surroundings. Our restaurant was an immediate success and has since attracted millions of patrons including politicians, diplomats, sports and entertainment celebrities, international business people, tourists, and locals. As governor, Ronald Reagan held both of his inaugural dinners here, and we’ve hosted every governor of California since.