Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive


Ornate Firehouse
Declared Historic
City Monument

Charles A. Tingley, assistant fire chief, with early day
fire helmet in front of old fire station on 5th St.

Times photos by John Malmin

The Taj Mahal of  fire stations, Engine House 23, in the heart of Skid Row at 225 E. 5th St., has been declared a historic cultural monument.
    One of the skinniest structures in the city---six times as tall as it is wide--Engine House 23 created a political and civic storm when it was opened Oct. 1, 1910.
    "What a waste!"
    "A Nirvana for a soulful legion of blue-shirted civil servants," went the news reports dedication day.
    "The interior of the station is astounding,"  The Times reported.  "Three station houses could be built for what this cost."

Luxury for Horses

    First floor of the three-story, 26-foot wide, 168-foot deep building contained ornate stalls for 10 horses, the buggy room and hay loft.  Even the horses had it good.  The 21-foot high white enameled walls were of imported Italian tile.
    But it was the chief's quarters on the top floor that brought the greatest outcries.  The seven-room apartment was the city's first gaudy penthouse.
    There was a private elevator for the chief, his wife and family and a private slide pole of polished brass for fast exits.
    The apartment, which cost $25,000. was lavishly paneled in importuned Honduras and Peruvian mahogany with padded leather wall coverings and rows of magnificent French bevel mirrors.  The polished floors were inlaid.

Massive Brass Bed

    The chief's boudoir has a massive brass bed.  The bathroom had a marble shower and a tub big enough for two "president Taft' size fire chiefs.  Ceilings were sculptured and there was a roof garden.
    Despite the storm over the resplendent showcase, Engine House 23 served as home and headquarters for the city's fire chiefs and their family through the 1930's.
    Its usefulness as a "working" fire station ended in 1960 when Engine Co. 23, and a rescue and salvage squad moved into new quarters at 7th and San Julian Sts.
    By declaring the structure a historic cultural monument, the Cultural Heritage Board prevents the old firehouse from being razed.  But it's not open to public yet.

Source: The Los Angeles Times

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