Community Center Resurrected--Again

A little preventive medicine went a long way when saving a historic Canoga Park firehouse, now the Canoga Park Community Center, from destruction.

For the second time in a little more than a decade, the center will be dedicated, this time after being remodeled and retrofitted to repair damage sustained in the Northridge earthquake.

"This building is unique in the community," said Glenn Kirby, president of the center. "It has the broadest scope of interests and we can be a clearinghouse of information for the community as a whole."

A rededication ceremony, with tours of the facility--including the newly restored Canoga/Owensmouth Historical Museum--will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the center, 7248 Owensmouth Ave.

Built in 1933 to house Los Angeles Engine Co. No. 72, the mission-style building was abandoned in 1978 and left empty for four years until the Canoga Park/West Hills Chamber of Commerce took interest.

Chamber members leased the building from the city, and, with donations from individuals and community businesses, restored the firehouse and opened it as a meeting place in 1986.

Over the years, the chamber and the Canoga Park Community Center Foundation maintained the building by renting out three conference rooms.

The historical society also gave tours of the museum to area schoolchildren.

When the Northridge earthquake hit, organizers wondered if all their work was going to hold. It did, for the most part.

The primary damage to the masonry building was to the porch, which had to be closed off.

The construction, which the city began in December and was completed in May, was paid with $100,000 in federal Emergency Management Agency funds and $10,000 in community donations, officials said.

Howard Shirley, president of the Canoga/Owensmouth Historical Society, said the group worked so hard to restore the building because it was an important part of the community's history.

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