Ask any two people from New Haven what Firehouse 12 is, and you’re almost bound to get two different answers. To music lovers, the restored 1905 fire station on Crown Street is Connecticut’s preeminent venue for experimental jazz, a place where artists who normally have a hard time booking gigs outside of major cities can draw an enthusiastic crowd. For the civic-minded, it’s a local success story, the crown jewel in New Haven’s decades-long effort to clean up the Ninth Square district. And for others, it’s simply a downtown watering hole, albeit a very nice one presided over by an award-winning bartender.
The truth is, Firehouse 12 is all those things, a beacon for the arts and a hub for the community. And at the heart of the venture, started 12 years ago by owner Nick Lloyd, is a recording studio that pulls double duty as a 75-seat auditorium for live shows during the spring and fall jazz series.