Los Angeles Fire Department
| It was the height of extravagance, a "Sybaritic effort," with its
interior of imported Italian marble and Peruvian wood paneling, Los
Angeles newspapers thundered when downtown Fire Station 23 was dedicated
Times noted that the three-story building at 225 E. 5th St. had
a bathtub "big enough for two big chiefs" and
snickered that the stalls for the fire horses had "sanitary
writer inquired sarcastically whether the captain who went on
duty at 6 p.m. was expected to wear evening dress.
the cost of this palace for smoke-eaters that would
"reincarnate man and beast"--$60,000!
fire commissioners wilted under the attack and went so far as to
deny they had any idea that the fire house was to have been so luxurious.
But the newspapers shot back that the commissioners had approved
Firemen and their horses liked the plush station, though.
It was a nice place to hang out in between alarms.
Every fire chief between 1910 and 1928 moved himself and his
family into special living quarters on the third floor.
That was convenient because department headquarters also were on
the third floor.
But times changed and the station became obsolete. It was
closed in 1960. Skid Row winos then took to breaking
in regularly to steal copper pipes and brass doorknobs to sell
for the price of a bottle.
Firehouse of 1910
Will be Rescued From Neglect
photo by R. L. Oliver
Only private funds will be sought for the refurbishing, the
commissioners said. A nonprofit group will be formed to do the
Now, though, the station will be rescued from neglect. The Fire
Commission has decided to turn it into a museum. Exhibited there
will be fire equipment from different periods of the city's history.
Although Station 23 is pushing 70, it is in a "remarkable
state of preservation" and will need "little work to
reconvert these rooms back to their 1910 condition," a department
Angeles has only one other old fire station preserved as a
historic landmark--the old Plaza station, which dates beck to
1885 and is maintained by a private group of fire buffs called
the Box 15 Club.
current fire commissioners, perhaps remembering the criticism
leveled at their predecessors who approved plans for Fire
Station 23, said no city funds will be involved in converting
the station into a museum.
The Los Angeles Times, October 8, 1979
Copyright 2001 All Rights Reserved.