MERIDEN — Chef Harry Schwartz, his daughter Alexa McCarthy and son-in-law Marcus McCarthy, recently sold the historic firehouse at 105 Hanover St. to the glass company next door for $241,000.
Schwartz and his partners sold the two-story property, complete with five-story drying tower, fire pole and other original accessories, to Interstate Glass Real Estate LLC for use as a showroom.
Formerly home to King Travelways agency, the building was last purchased in December 2015 for $195,000 for use as a private artist’s residence and the Art Capsule gallery.
Built in 1892, the former firehouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. The building was the city’s first fire station and the oldest existing municipally owned structure at the time of designation, according to its application.
“The firehouse is significant historically because much of the history of the Meriden Fire Department may be read in the record of activities at this station,” the application states.
Schwartz and the McCarthys formed Art Capsule LLC and bought the firehouse for Alexa McCarthy to operate her digitized art collection and cataloging business for private clients. But Alexa McCarthy had secured contracts as a curatorial assistant to museums worldwide and returned to New York City with her husband.
Schwartz, who had made the second floor his home, is spending more time with his fiancee in Long Island, New York, and the buildling is often vacant, he said.
Schwartz, also known as Chef Harry, spent much of his time in the city working with the community on farmers’ markets and other food and health-related events. Schwartz previously battled cancer, which has since been in remission.
“My experience in Meriden was a critical time in my life,” Schwartz said Monday. “At the firehouse, I healed.”
Art Capsule bought the property from King Travel for $195,000 in 2015 as a way for the McCarthys to build a real estate portfolio while hosting art and antique shows. The McCarthys joined the Leiden Collection in 2016 after working at Christie’s Auction House in London and New York, and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Alexa McCarthy’s work entails frequent travel and a New York City residence. The building’s neighbors also had their eye on the firehouse and approached Schwartz about a possible sale.
“We love historic homes, we have one in Essex,” said Erin DeVries, who owns Interstate Glass at 111 Hanover St. “We want to turn it into a showroom, an extension of what we have here.”
DeVries’ husband, Kurt Devries, bought the business in 1986, and the company remained but suffered growing pains in recent years. The company specializes in residential and commercial design, and the installation and repair of custom glass shower doors, windows and mirrors, and it wants to expand and use the neighboring parking lot for customers.
Interstate completed the mirror work at local Edge Fitness centers.
The building is in the heart of the city’s transit-oriented district.
“It is a great reuse of the building, and provides an opportunity for a downtown business expansion, which is great news,” said Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski.