Friday, June 29, 2012

Functional Modernism: Fire Station #18

Fire Station #18, located at Washington Street and Tibbs Avenue on the west side of Indianapolis, is the earliest of the two Pierre & Wright designed fire stations represented in our collection of Pierre & Wright drawings. They both have a similar, Art Deco style with curvilinear walls of windows flanking the central fire truck bays.The fire department moved out of #18 when they built a larger building; however this Art Deco gem still stands today, although it is in need of preservation. Below is a description of the building soon after it was built, that appeard in American Builder magazine in June 1937.

Functional modernism is the order of the day--now even fire stations are models of efficiency in planning and construction. The building above, Fire Station #18, in Indianapolis, lacks the classic bell tower, brass poles, and elaborate stalls which characterized such buildings of twenty years ago. Instead it is compactly planned on a single floor with an exterior having modern lines and clean cut decoration.

The layout shows a central apparatus room, the entrance equipped with upward acting doors. Dormitories on both sides provide bunk room for the fire company; the locker room with showers and toilets extends across the rear and is directly connecting with sleeping quarters. At one side of the front there is a pleasant, well lighted recreation or lounge room with fireplace and a small office adjoining to the rear. Opposite are placed the dining room and kitchen. The small tower which can be seen in the exterior view is used to dry hose and not house the fire bell, as was the former function of such details.

Construction is fireproof, with masonry walls of haydite concrete block and brick facing, reinforced concrete floor, concrete ceiling slabs on steel joists and steel casement. The cost was approximately $20,000; Pierre and Wright of Indianapolis were the architects responsible for the efficient planning and modern appearance of the structure.

Images: Fire Station #18 photograph, ca. 1937 [34-216], Fran E. Schroeder Architectural Records; Presentation Drawing photostat, construction drawing, 1936 [3-41], Pierre & Wright Architectural Records, Drawings + Documents Archive, Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries.

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