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Charlotte Fire Station Number 7

Architectural Description

 

 

 

Charlotte Fire Station Number 7 is a narrow, two-story, one-bay-wide, brick building that faces west and sits close to North Davidson Street in Charlotte.  The building is located near the middle of the 3200 block, which is in the heart of the small commercial district that historically served the North Charlotte neighborhood.  Neighboring one and two story brick storefront buildings date from the early years of the 20th century, and are mixed with later commercial/retail buildings.   The fire station has retained a high degree of integrity and is in good condition; and, despite its relatively small size, the building remains prominent in the streetscape. 

 

The building's decorative architectural elements are concentrated on the symmetrical facade.  Built on a concrete slab, the brick walls rise from the grade and are laid (on the front elevation) in Common Flemish Bond.  The truck entrance to the firehouse is sheltered by a shallow portico supported by two square brick posts.  The posts have inset corners on all sides, giving the appearance of a pilaster on the front of the posts.   The posts rise from granite bases and support a wooden framed balcony. 

 

The brick post extend through the balcony floor and form low brick handrail posts that are topped with simple cast caps.  The posts support original iron railings that feature a geometric design.  Metal supports rest on the low brick posts and support an aluminum awning that was added to the building late in the 20th century.  The low brick posts are connected to the facade by a narrow section of iron railing.  The balcony and the doorway below it are recessed slightly into the facade.  Square pilaster frame the opening.  The pilasters are topped with moulded wooden trim.  The balcony's rear wall is composed entirely of original wooden millwork.  An original wooden eight-light door is centered in the balcony, and is topped with a three-light transom.  Pairs of eight-light casement windows border the doorway and are topped with four two-light transom sash.

 

 

The pilasters are topped by pediment decorated with dental moulding.  The pediment protrudes slightly from the facade and is protected by step-flashing.  The recessed center section of the facade gives the outer sections the appearance of wide pilasters. This effect is most notable above the shallow pediment.  The large pilasters feature stone bands at the second-floor ceiling height.  Above the stone bands the outer corners of the pilasters are inset.  The facade is topped with a gabled parapet which is capped with a course of stone.

 

 

 

In contrast to the Common Flemish bond on the facade, the brickwork on the side and rear elevations is laid in an American bond with five rows of stretchers laid between each row of headers.   

The fire station's side elevations can be divided into bays that are delineated by narrow brick piers.  The piers stop at the ceiling height of the first story and are topped with sloped stone caps.  The projecting brick piers indicate the location of three interior steel beams that run the width of the building,  allowing for the open floor plan in the first story.   Door and window openings are unadorned, with a soldier-course of brick laying across each metal header.  New metal-framed doors and windows have replaced the original wooden millwork in the original openings.   On the south elevation, the first story features a single-light door adjacent to the facade.  The upper floor features single and double windows.  The rearmost wall opening has been infilled with brick.  An iron arm attached into the brickwork might indicate that the opening originally served to load coal into the basement.  A moulded wooden band tops the side walls and meets a narrow eave overhang.

 

 

 

The iron arm shown in this photograph was used to load fuel into the basement.

 

 The north elevation is partially obscured by a recent one-story addition.  The small brick addition is topped by a low-pitch hipped roof, and is set-back from the front of the building in a sensitive manner so that it does not detract greatly from the historic facade.  Similar window openings as those found on the south elevation pierce the north elevation.   

 

 

This photograph of the southwestern corner of the building demonstrates the two different brick patterns on the exterior of the building.  The facade features Common Flemish Bond, a bond with five rows of stretchers separated by a single row of alternating headers and 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 rear of the fire station features a one-story wing that once served as a small jail.  Sanborn Maps indicate that the one-story wing was of fireproof construction.  This probably means that in addition to the solid masonry walls common to the entire building the jail portion features a concrete roof.   The roof has been covered with a composite roofing material.  The rear wing is inset from the principal section of the fire station.  The flat roof of the wing slopes slightly to the rear and is bordered on both sides by low, flat parapets capped with  a course of cast concrete blocks.  The flat roof was designed to serve as a balcony, and the original iron pipe railings have survived.  An original door opening on the south elevation has been retained, but all of the original window openings have been filled with brick.  

 

The design of the fire station's low-pitched gabled-roof is most apparent from the rear.  The second story features simple eave returns and an original wooden half-round louvered vent in the gable.  A simple square brick flue is located where the south elevation of the rear wing meets the principal section of the building.  The flue rises from the basement and is topped with a simple concrete cap.

 

 

 

Interior of Charlotte Fire Station Number 7

 
 

The interior of the Charlotte Fire Station Number  has retained a high degree of integrity.  The first-story floor is a poured concrete slab.   Glazed tile rise from an integrated concrete baseboard and cover nearly all of the wall surfaces on the first floor.  The tiles are various hues of tan, except for a row of black tile that was laid at the six-foot level.  The first story features several original interior panel doors, including a two-panel six-light door leading to a rear office.  Perhaps the most prominent interior feature is a staircase built against the south wall.  The stairs feature a wooden newel post with dadoed accents, a curved handrail, and simple squared balusters set in a geometric pattern.   

Piping, ducting, electrical boxes, and conduit are located on many of the walls and on the ceiling, reflecting the continual changes and upgrades made to the building.  The ceiling is flat plaster with simple moulded trim.  Three beams support the ceiling in the large open fire truck bay.  The beams feature a simple recessed panel and are constructed of plaster and metal lath over a wooden box that hides a steel beam that carries the load of the floor above. 

The rear wing of the building, the former jail, has been altered with new walls and ceilings and has not retained any original interior features.  The upper story of the fire station has also been largely altered so that it is difficult to determine the original configuration of the space.

In terms of Charlotte's built environment,  Charlotte Fire Station Number 7 is significant as one of several fire stations built in Charlotte before World War II in response to the growth of the city and the technical and professional development of firefighting.   Of the four surviving fire stations built during this period, the single-bay Station Number 7 is the smallest. 

 

 Station No. 7  Station No. 5

 

Station No. 6 Station No. 4