The firehouse was built in 1903 after the establishment of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) as the base of the formerly independent Hook and Ladder fire company 8. The building was designed as the first of a series of Beaux-Arts style firehouses by the city superintendent of buildings, Alexander H. Stevens. The building, which originally had two vehicle doors, was halved in size in 1913 after Varick Street was widened.
The firehouse was selected as the base of the “Ghostbusters” for the 1984 film after an early draft of the script envisaged the Ghostbusters as a public service much like the fire department. Reportedly, the firehouse was chosen because writer Dan Aykroyd knew the area and liked the building. While the firehouse served as the set for exterior scenes, the interior of the Ghostbusters base was shot in a Los Angeles studio, and in Fire Station No. 23, a decommissioned Los Angeles firehouse.