Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive


  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 in 1910.

    The 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 arrangements." 

    The writer inquired sarcastically whether the captain who went on duty at 6 p.m. was expected to wear evening dress.

    And the cost of this palace for smoke-eaters that would "reincarnate man and beast"--$60,000!

    City 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 the plans.

    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.

'Palatial'  Firehouse  of  1910
Will be Rescued From Neglect

                                                                                 Times photo by R. L. Oliver

                                  Fire Station 23
Only private funds will be sought for the refurbishing, the commissioners said.  A nonprofit group will be formed to do the soliciting.
                                                                                        --By Nieson Himmel

     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 report said.

    Los 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.

    The 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

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