The original Lakewood Fire Department Engine House No. 3 officially began service in 1927. It remained active until the mid-1970s, when a more updated engine house was built on Clifton Blvd. From the 1975 until 2005, the building was occupied and eventually owned by Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival (now Great Lakes Theater) and was used as office space, storage, and eventually served as the theater company’s costume shop.
In 2005, Great Lakes Theater sold the firehouse to Forest City Realty Trust during phase one construction of the Rockport Square townhomes. The building first served as the Rockport Square sales office, before becoming the Rockport Square HOA community space. It was during this time that Firehouse Yoga got its start. (More on that below.)
In early 2020, the building was acquired by Lakewood Firefighters Local 382, and the nonprofit Lakewood Professional Firefighters Historical Association was formed with the mission to preserve and restore the building while maintaining it as a community meeting & event space.
In 2014, Rockport Square Residents, Molly & Linda Bondellio, were completing their 200-hour yoga teacher training at Pink Lotus Yoga on the west side of Lakewood. They noticed that while the first floor of the firehouse was utilized for the occasional resident meeting or party, the upstairs space was going unused. They obtained permission from the HOA to use the large former bunk room for some informal classes to meet their practice teaching requirement. Upon certification, Molly continued to offer classes to family and friends, and Firehouse Yoga was born!
In 2015, fellow yoga teacher and Rockport resident, Nicole McLaughlin, joined Molly to lead a few weekly classes of her own. They formed a co-op, inviting a couple other teachers into the mix, with each teacher managing their own classes and the group sharing overhead costs. Little by little, the studio began to grow. In 2019, Molly moved away from the Cleveland area, passing the co-op leadership to Nicole.
Then, 2020 happened…
COVID-19 quarantine and mandatory closures threw the yoga community into chaos. Like many studio leaders, Nicole switched gears and began offering some online classes. With two up-for-the-challenge teachers, she managed to keep things going for the rest of 2020, slowly transitioning from a co-op to a more traditional studio/small business model.
And here we are today!
With an expanded staff of teachers and a full class schedule, offering both in person and online classes, it feels almost like a new beginning. Or, perhaps just the next phase in a long journey. Nicole and her staff share a mission to offer friendly, non-competitive, and accessible classes that touch upon all eight limbs of the yoga practice, encouraging students to explore their own yoga journey while building community with others. Together with Local 382 and the LPFHA, they all share the vision of ensuring that old Engine House No. 3 remains a neighborhood gem for years to come.