It’s no surprise to patrons of Bar Marco
that the building has a storied past. In case one misses the “No. 7 Engine Company” emblazoned above the restaurant’s entrance, relics of its 19th
century foundation are seen in the tile walls and embellished tin ceiling.
The site served as a firehouse — hence the Engine Company
— from 1860 to 1949, according to Bar Marco owner Robert Fry. He explains that the building was the last firehouse in the city to stop using horses to pull fire wagons. Fry says the modern entrance of Bar Marco was once the back of the firehouse, where the horses would pull up. In 1905, the building was reoriented to face Penn Avenue.
There are a few links to the firehouse’s Antebellum history that the customer does not see when visiting Bar Marco. An old hose shaft provides a ladder to the roof and there are bricked in tunnels in the wine cellar that are connected to other original buildings throughout the Strip. According to Fry, these tunnels are rumored to be part of the Underground Railroad.
When the Engine Company ceased operation, it became an Iron Workers’ Union Hall — the inspiration for the name of Bar Marco’s second-floor events space, The Union Hall. The building then served as offices before becoming the Firehouse Lounge and Embry.
The site began operating as Bar Marco in fall 2011. But before the restaurant opened its doors in January 2012, Fry and his team worked to restore the building’s history.
They pulled down dry wall and a drop down ceiling, renovated floors and brought the site back to its original glory.
“We just did everything we could to bring everything back to its natural beauty,” Fry says.
Source: Robert Fry