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Historic firehouses

Preservation group seeks landmark designation

for 19 more of the Districtís aging fire stations

(Published January 28, 2002)

Engine Company 19 on Pennsylvania Avenue SE in Ward 7 is among 19 city firehouses nominated for historic landmark status.

Nineteen of the Districtís aging firehouses, most built in residential neighborhoods before World War II, have been nominated for historic landmark status by a nonprofit group that is trying to preserve and promote the history of the D.C. fire department.

In its application to the Historic Preservation Review Board, the nonprofit Capitol Fire Museum asks that the largely unchanged exteriors of the buildings be granted historic protections due to their architectural significance and their role in the technological progress of firefighting and the development of the Districtís neighborhoods.

A public hearing on the nominations must be scheduled as part of the application process. Designation as historic sites would not prevent interior improvements from being made to firehouses that remain in service.

In addition to compiling historical documentation for the Capitol Fire Museumís application, local historian Sally Berk also on Jan. 24 urged subscribers to a local online message network to contact city officials and write letters to the editor to protest the cityís neglect of three vacant firehouses.

The three vacant firehouse are Old Engine Company 6 at 438 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Old Engine Company 10 at 1341 Maryland Ave. NE and Old Engine Company 12 at 1626 North Capitol St. NW. Old Engine Company 6 already is listed on the D.C. Inventory of Historic Sites and the National Register of Historic Places. The other two vacant firehouses are among the 19 for which Berkís group is seeking historic designation.

"This important part of our history is deteriorating, depreciating the value of surrounding properties and adding nothing to our tax rolls," Berk wrote.

The following firehouses were nominated for historic status in the groupís application ("old" engine company buildings are no longer used as fire stations):

Copyright 2002, The Common Denominator