Axiom has History on its Side

Axiom, a branding and creative communications agency specializing in the oil and gas industry, recently moved its Houston headquarters into an early 20th century fire station that first opened its doors not long after Spindletop gushed the birth of the energy industry.

Axiom Principal Tom Hair restored Fire Station 6 (est. 1903), Houston's second-oldest fire station (after the Houston Fire Museum, established in 1899), to its former glory in the Sixth Ward and energized the agency with offices that detail old-world style while providing high-tech communications services for its energy clients.

Hair, a third-generation Houstonian, purchased the vacant building in December 2005, which was previously used as a salvage and auction house. He oversaw its restoration to completion in February of this year, moving to 1702 Washington Ave. from the Montrose area.

For Axiom, Fire Station No. 6 represents more than a historic environment that stimulates the company's creative juices; the building has drawn praise from Houston firefighters and Axiom clients.

"This building escaped the demolition ball taken to so many other historic sites in the city. We have demonstrated that Houston's notable buildings can be restored and repurposed," Tom Hair said. "The driving force of the project was truly the beauty and function of the building itself. We wanted to capture the spirit and character of Fire Station 6 and worked to retain its original form as much as possible. We are honored to give it a new purpose as the home of Axiom."

Sctt Mellott, Houston Fire Department personnel historian and retired firefighter, said he has been watching the transformation of the building and "was thrilled to see it being saved from falling apart.

"Tom took great pains to put the building back to what it used to be, and he's not even a firefighter. Everyone I've talked to at HFD is so happy this has happened. It is really a tribute to the department's heritage."

The dichotomy of the new and old is evident throughout Fire Station No. 6, yet with evident respect to its past.

Hair strived to use as much of the original exterior and interior materials as possible. Cedar Bayou bricks were reclaimed from another 100-year-old structure and used to construct the annex, matching the look of the original building. With the annex in place to provide more office space, the overall structure occupies 8,950 square feet.

About 60 percent of the building's original pinewood flooring was saved; the remainder was replaced with reclaimed pine through Historic Houston, a salvage warehouse that closed last year. The structure's 27 mahogany-framed windows were rebuilt using custom millwork to create frames that matched the originals portrayed in old photographs of the building. The interior paint colors and wood trim were chosen to reflect the building's century-old heritage.

That attention to detail is no surprise to Axiom client NEOS GeoSolutions.

"Axiom's new home absolutely reflects what they do so well for their clients. Not only do they place great importance on every individual detail (of a building or a marketing campaign), they think through how the individual elements will come together to deliver a fully integrated, high-impact 'wow' impression," said Chris Friedemann, chief marketing officer at NEOS. "'Wow' was certainly what I took away from my first visit to Fire Station No. 6. But I guess I shouldn't totally be surprised, as I've had that feeling on many occasions whenever I've interacted with Axiom over the years."

Axiom is working with the Houston Fire Museum to periodically set up small historical exhibits in its lobby and will share its own artifacts discovered during the restoration with the museum. This sharing of displays is an emerging trend for small museums, according to Tristan Smith, executive director of the Houston Fire Museum.

In addition, to benefit the museum, Axiom created two commemorative Fire Station 6 shirt designs that salute the firefighters of the 19th and 20th centuries. The shirts are available for purchase at the museum, at the current HFD No. 6 (located at 3402 Washington Ave.), or online at, with a portion of the proceeds donated to the museum.

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