Structure Type: built works - public buildings - fire stations

Designers: Huntington, Daniel R., Architect (firm); Daniel Riggs Huntington Sr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1920-1921

2 stories

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2318 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121

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Located on the southeast corner of 4th Avenue and Battery Street, the U-shaped Fire Station #02 was completed in 1921, and contained an auditorium for departmental assemblies and maintenance facilities for fire trucks. The new station was one of the first to accommodate the motorized fire trucks that replaced horse-drawn fire equipment. It has remained the oldest fire station in use for the Seattle Fire Department.

Building History

The City of Seattle erected the building to house Engine Company #2 and #4 and Ladder Company #4. Larger than typical fire stations in the city, Fire Station #02 also contained an auditorium for departmental events and maintenance docks for the repair of fire trucks.

Building Notes

In the wake of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, architects on the Pacific Coast increasingly introduced reinforced-concrete structures into their commercial and institutional building designs. The exteriors of industrial buildings of the 1910s often displayed structural grids of concrete filled in with non-load-bearing walls of brick.

The Seattle architect W.R.B. Willcox (1869-1947) created notable public works that used reinforced concrete for arches, columns and lintels, with these structural elements separated by flush infill panels of patterned brick. His designs for the Arboretum Sewer Trestle (1911) and West Queen Anne Retaining Wall (1914) demonstrated this aesthetic. A City of Seattle landmark designation document of 05/17/1985 for Fire Station #02 stated: “The detail of the two story concrete and inlaid brick building derives from earlier Seattle public works project designs.1890-era fire stations were built in brick with some stucco and wood half-timbered treatments. But early in the century, poured-in-place and reinforced concrete began to be used for industrial type buildings and structures, including the Georgetown Steam Plant (1906) and the West Queen Anne Retaining Walls….The latter concrete and inlaid brick project, designed by W.R.B. Willcox, would certainly have been familiar to Daniel Huntington, station designer, and then City Architect. The inlay treatment of the concrete facade and the circle patterned corbels and pediment forms of the 1921 fire house may have been inspired by the wall project.” (See City of Seattle, Landmarks Preservation, "Report on Designation Fire Station #2 2318 Fourth Avenue Seattle, WA," completed 05/17/1985, accessed 03/03/2021.)

Huntington also demonstrated similar compositional tendencies in the Seattle City Light and Power Lake Union Steam Plant, done in 1914. In the steam plant, the architect utilized steel sash windows, segmental arches, and decorative pediments on the parapet to break facades into regularized parts. He did not, however, use infill brick elements as he would in the Fire Station #02.

To some extent, Huntington merged this industrial aesthetic of revealing the reinforced-concrete frame with an interest in "Jacobethan" compositional details. Segmental or Tudor arches can be found in many English buildings of the Jacobean and Elizabethan periods particularly outlining main entryways, and many of these buildings were notable for their extravagant use of glass lights to compose tall windows. With steel sash, Huntington employed a useful modern product that reflected the prominent window expanses of these two earlier periods of English design. Jacobethan buildings also presaged this industrial aesthetic by contrasting patterned brickwork with cut-stone detailing around window trim and for quoins, as at Crewe Hall's East Wing, Cheshire, built between 1615 and 1636. Huntington's simplified use of punctuating, pedimented forms on the parapet can also be seen in this example of Jacobean architecture.

PCAD id: 3112