Superlist no. 810


Vintage firehouses
Eight of San Francisco's oldest that beat the heat.
By Elisa Jacobs

AFTER ENDURING THE 1906 earthquake and fire, years of pollution, and a century's worth of harsh weather conditions, some of San Francisco's most astonishing Victorian-era fire engine companies have lived to tell their tales.

The following defunct firehouses were all built after the establishment of the city's fire department in 1866 and are the oldest stations in S.F. Most retain their original architecture.

Steamer Company No. 13

1458 Valencia St.

This is San Francisco's oldest standing firehouse. Its Italian-influenced design is typical of Victorian-era architecture, and the facade boasts rare cast-iron detailing. Company No. 13 operated until 1942, when a private owner purchased the building. Another private owner purchased it in 1959. (Built 1883)

Engine Company No. 27

52 Waller St.

Originally constructed as a storehouse for fire department equipment and supplies, this structure was also used as a stable for department horses before becoming a firehouse. It was purchased by the First Baptist Church in the 1970s and now houses Club 1886 at the Old Fire House, a visual and performance art space. (1886)

Engine Company No. 2/Truck Company No. 6

1152 Oak St.

The Engine Company No. 2 building was designed by the San Francisco architecture firm of Henriksen and Mahoney, which was contracted to build three firehouses in the city in 1893. Until recently, the firehouse was still owned by the San Francisco Fire Department and used as a gym for firefighters; it is now privately owned. (1893)

Engine Company No. 23

3022 Washington St.

Architect Bernhardt Henriksen designed the Engine Company No. 23 building, which was active until 1963. In 1964 it was sold by the city and converted into a residence by interior designer John Dickinson. From 1989 to 1995 it was the residence of former California governor – and now Oakland mayor – Jerry Brown. (1893)

Engine Company No. 14

1047 McAllister St.

This firehouse was demolished in the 1960s as part of a city redevelopment project. However, the facade was preserved and has found new life as the entranceway to a housing complex. This firehouse's original address was 1051 McAllister St. but was later changed to 1047. (1895)

Engine Company No. 30

1757 Waller St.

While this firehouse closed in 1956, the building is still engrossed in community service, as it has housed the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center's TALK Line Family Support Center since 1987. A well-preserved example of Victorian architecture, No. 30 features arched windows, pilasters, and dentil molding typical of the period. (1895)

Engine Company No. 33

117 Broad St.

Active until 1974, No. 33 is owned by firefighting aficionados Robert Katzman and Marilyn Katzman, who have made it their home for the past two decades. The Katzmans operate Fire Engine Tours (www.fireenginetours.com), which allows tourists and natives to explore the sights of San Francisco in bright red fire engine-style. (1896)

Engine Company No. 22

1348 10th Ave.

Designed by architect Charles R. Wilson, this firehouse has since the 1970s been home to the Oakes Children's Center, which helps autistic and developmentally disabled children. While the inside of the building has been mostly refurbished, the memory of Engine Company No. 22 still lives on: a standing fire pole remains. (1898)