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Charlotte Fire Station Number 5

Architectural Description

 

 

Charlotte Fire Station Number 5 is a  two-story, two-bay-wide, brick building that faces south and sits close to Wesley Heights Way in the Wesley Heights neighborhood of Charlotte.  The building is located on in a row of low commercial buildings, and is located less than two blocks from West Trade Street, a busy commercial artery.  But the Fire Station is near outer edge of the current and historic commercial development.  Single family homes are located directly behind the station, and houses line Wesley Heights Way (formerly Tuckaseegee Road) to the west.  The fire station has retained a high degree of integrity and is in good condition.  

 

 Station No. 4  Station No. 6

 

Station No. 7 Wesley Heights Houses

 

Charlotte Fire Station Number 5 was one of several fire stations designed by Charlotte architect Charles Christian Hook.  In contrast to Station 4, which reflects in its architecture the commercial nature of the Uptown area, Station 5 responds more to the domestic architecture of the surrounding residential neighborhood.   This is also true for Hook's Stations 6 and 7, which were also built in suburban setting.    Station 5 incorporates elements of the Spanish Eclectic and Mission Styles.  While these styles are fairly rare in Charlotte, the styles blend well with the many bungalows found in the neighborhood.

 

 

The building's decorative architectural elements are concentrated on the symmetrical facade.  Built on a concrete slab, the facade features shaped granite blocks at the base of the wall.  These blocks project slightly from the wall and into the bay openings, protecting the softer brick from damage.  The facade is veneered with wire-cut brick laid in running bond.   A band of bricks composed of alternating headers and stretchers is laid vertically on the stone blocks.  All of the wall openings and the corners of the facade are highlighted by shallow projecting brickwork.  The facade is dominated on the first story by the two simple rectangular garage-door openings.  The metal segmental overhead doors close against metal jams that wrap the sides and the top of the deep opening.   Doors and jams date from the second half of the twentieth century.  Between the doors and to either side of the doors are original wall sconces with globes.  It is quite remarkable that these fixtures have survived.  

 

 

 

 

Above each door opening is a band of brick delineating the lintel.  The same vertical brick-pattern found at the base of the wall is used here.   On the second story shallow balconies project out, directly above the doors.  The balconies appear to be concrete slabs with scalloped corners.  The impression of the rough lumber forms can be seen from below.  The edges of the balconies are covered with  bronze coping.  Iron handrails, painted to match the bronze,  feature finials on the post.  The centers of the spans feature bent forged balusters with a cast floral medallion.  The concrete balcony floors originally were recessed into the building with segmental-arched openings and curved walls leading to door.  The openings have been infilled with brick forming wide window openings containing triple ganged windows composed of two fixed and one double-hung.  The windows are now shaded by metal awning.  The awnings and the current window configuration can be seen in photographs dating to 1958.  

 

Set in the brickwork between the balcony floors is a cast stone marker bearing "CFD No 5."  Above the marker is a narrow window with a one-piece stone sill, with a single-light replacement sash.  

 

 

 

The corners of the facade feature small shaped roof parapets with stone cove coping.  The shallow projecting brickwork follows the shape of the parapet.  The brickwork in the center of the parapet below the coping is laid in a keystone shape with nearly vertical bricks.  Between the parapets a shallow hipped visor roof shelters the facade.  The roof features terracotta tile and is supported by exposed rafters with curved-sawn  tails.

The wire-cut brick that veneers the facade also covers the first bays of the side elevations.  As on the facade, the  shallow projecting brickwork highlights the edges of the bays and follows the shape of the parapets.  The parapets over the side elevations are wider than the front parapets, and on the sides the vertical brickwork resembles a shallow pointed arch.  

The fire station is five bays deep. On the east elevation the first bay contains a replacement door.  Above the door the second story is pierced by a window opening with a simple brick sill and a soldier-course at the lintel.   Beyond the first bay on both side elevations, the wire-cut brick laid in running bond is replaced with common bricks laid in American bond.  

Beyond the first bay, the east elevation features four large window openings, all of which have been infilled with brick.  At the top of the window opening the lintel is delineated by a soldier course of brick.  No sills for these windows survive.  A small window has been inserted into one of the large openings.  

 

 

On the second story, beyond the first bay, the elevation is pierced by six additional window openings.   Openings are filled with replacement windows and feature simple brick sills, and a soldier course of brick at the top of the opening.  Above the windows, a row of small vents are set in the wall to allow for attic ventilation.  Beyond the first bay, the elevation is topped by a simple three-step parapet with tile coping.

 

The west elevation is similar to the east elevation.  In the first bay, the elevation is pierced by a window opening like that found on the second story, otherwise the fenestration is a mirror image of the east elevation, with the remainder of the first story windows infilled with brick. A tall metal exhaust flue is attached to the west elevation.  

 

 

The rear elevation features a simple external brick chimney set close to the east elevation.  The rear elevation was originally pierced by four openings.  A tall opening in the first storycontains a replacement door with a fixed transom.  To the west, a window opening is partially filled with brick and a short replacement window. On the second story two original window openings have been infilled with brick.

 

 

This photograph of the southwestern corner of the building demonstrates the two different brick patterns on the exterior of the building.  The facade features a running bond, a bond with offset rows of stretchers.  The side and rear elevations feature a much more typical American Bond pattern, with five rows of stretcher bricks laid between each row of locking header bricks

 

 

The interior of  Charlotte Fire Station Number 5  has retained many of it original features, and the basic layout of the rooms has not change significantly.  However, its constant use as a an active fire station has resulted in changes to the interior.   The first-story floor is a poured concrete slab.   Inside, the brick walls are exposed.  A crudely formed concrete baseboard bridges the transition from the slab to the brick walls.  The historic open nature of the first story has been preserved.  Beams encased in moulded plaster allow for the open space.    A single steel column supports an intersection of two columns, a large beam that runs from the front of the building and a slightly shallower beam that runs the width of the building.  The ceiling is flat plaster with simple moulded trim.  The rear section of the first story originally contained a glass and beaded-board captain's office.  The office has been rebuilt with modern materials.  An original staircase with a simple newel posts rises along the east wall.  The handrail and balusters are original, the treads and risers have been covered with rubberized flooring.  The walls around the stairs are plastered, with trim set in the wall at chair rail height.  Pipes, conduit, and other mechanical features have been added to the interior through the years.

 Second story features plaster walls and trim.

The interior of the second story has largely retained its original layout.  The front section of second story contains the kitchen and common area.  The original balconies have been incorporated into this space.  The original beaded-board ceiling has been covered with a drop-ceiling, and the wood floors are cover with new flooring.  Original plaster walls with a tall baseboard and chair rail have survive.  Two fireman poles originally connected the the stories, one has been filled with framing, the other has been retained with a modern pole apparatus.   The rear of the second story still functions as design as a barracks for firefighters.  The captain's bedroom is intact and features original layout, walls and trim.