As part of the planning for a new City Hall and downtown redesign, the city of Katy conducted a poll asking residents to name the downtown area structures they would like to see remain unchanged. The City Annex on Second Street was frequently named as a landmark residents want to preserve.
These days, the structure is home to Keep Katy Beautiful and the Parks and Recreation Department, but the annex has been through many incarnations in its 61-year history.
The building was originally Katy’s first fire station. Though the volunteer fire department was founded in 1947, it did not have a dedicated station until 1953, when the city annex was built.
That year a minstrel show was held at the Katy School Auditorium to raise funds to build the fire station, according to Carol Adams in her Katy Heritage Society book titled “Historic Katy: An illustrated history.”
From the beginning, the city annex has been multifunctional. At the same time the fire department moved in, so did the public library on the building’s east end.
By 1975, the fire department had outgrown the station and needed a new facility that could better accommodate a larger force and modern equipment.
“The newer equipment wouldn’t fit in the space designed for 1950s trucks,” said Adams in an email. “The VFD had grown a lot and so had the city.”
Consequently, the fire department moved out of the city annex and into the newly completed City Hall building in 1975, where it remained until 1983.
When the fire department relocated, the library expanded and occupied the entirety of the city annex.
Hank Schmidt served as a fire chief and worked for the fire department in all three buildings it has occupied.
“Preserving some of our history is an important thing,” Schmidt said. “Even though it started out as being a fire department building, it’s morphed into something that’s useful today.”
That space served the library until 2003, when a new 15,000-square-foot library was constructed on Franz Road.
The library vacated the city annex after 50 years. The city converted the annex into office space.
Though the building’s design is simple, without ornate touches and a flashy appearance, it remains a symbol of Katy’s history and growth for many residents.