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Summary for 5968 Rainier AVE / Parcel ID 8113101080 / Inv # SFD013

Historic Name: Fire Station No. 28 Common Name:
Style: Modern Neighborhood: Columbia City
Built By: Year Built: 1955
Completed in 1955, this modern brick veneer fire station serves the Columbia City, Hillman City, Brighton, and Seward Park neighborhoods located near the midpoint of the Rainier Valley. Until 1949, the combination of financial difficulties due to the economic depression of the 1930s and shortages of labor and materials brought on by the Second World War had halted construction of any new fire stations for a fifteen-year period. By the later 1940s, many of the department’s older wood frame fire stations were very much in need of replacement. The original Fire Station No. 28 had been built in 1910 several blocks to the north on South Orcas Street just east of Rainier Avenue South. This two-story wood frame building featured a distinctive tower and Craftsman-influenced design elements. This was the first fire station constructed in the Rainier Valley after the City of Seattle annexed the area in 1907. For the next four years, it remained the only fire station in all of the Rainier Valley until the 1914 construction of Fire Stations No. 30 in Mount Baker and No. 33 in Rainier Beach. When the fire department decided to replace the old wood frame station, they chose a site located about three blocks to the south on Rainier Avenue South at South Kenny Street. The Seattle Engineering Department already owned a large parcel of land there and had completed a new Hillman Garage, Office and Crew Headquarters in 1953. Two years later, Fire Station No. 28 was constructed in 1955 at the front of the lot. The Seattle Fire Department later acquired the use of the remaining portion of the property for a training facility. Architect Fred B. Stephen prepared a Modern design for the new building. Frederick Bennett Stephen was the son of the prominent Seattle Architect James Stephen, best known for his work as the primary architect for the Seattle School District from 1899 to 1909. In 1908, Fred Stephen entered into partnership with his father after earning an architectural degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Stephen & Stephen designed school buildings throughout Washington as well as numerous commercial and residential buildings. In 1917, William G. Brust, a former classmate of Fred Stephen, joined the partnership, which continued for another ten years. After James Stephen retired in 1928, his son pursued an independent practice. During the 1950s, Fred Stephen designed all six of the new fire stations built in Seattle. In 1986, Fire Station No. 28 was closed for extensive renovations, which substantially altered the appearance of the building. Despite these alterations, this fire station is significant for its design and for its associations with the development of the Seattle Fire Department and the Rainier Valley.
Completed in 1955, this one-story reinforced concrete building is situated along the eastern side of Rainier Avenue South at the front of a large lot located at the southeast corner of Rainier Avenue South and South Kenny Street. The flat roof structure shares the site with a Fire Department Training Facility originally built in 1952-53 as an office, garage and crew quarters for the Seattle Engineering Department. Extensive renovations closed the fire station between 1986 and 1987 and resulted in substantial alterations to the building’s original appearance. Featuring a roman brick exterior, this building’s appearance was similar to the five other fire stations built during the late 1940s and the 1950s from designs by Architect Fred B. Stephen. The building is comprised of four rectangular plan sections, which combine to create a building with varying roof heights and an irregular but mostly rectangular footprint, which measures approximately 72 feet by 56 feet. The one-story section at the northern end houses the crew quarters and adjoins the higher engine bay at the center of the building. A smaller bay for a medic van extends several feet beyond the southern side of the engine bay. The offset office wing wraps around this smaller bay and continues to the rear of the building. A smooth stucco exterior with decorative banding helps to unite these various elements. On the north elevation of the crew quarters, windows in larger and smaller openings flank an entrance door at the center. The east and west elevations of this section are blank. The two openings of the large engine bay dominate the principal south elevation. A concrete pier separates the openings, which contain overhead metal doors. An overhead metal door also fills the single opening in the adjacent bay. A band of modern multi-paned windows extends across the façade of the office and terminates at the glassed in recessed entrance on the southern end. The south elevation has four windows set at intervals along its length. The rear east elevation of the engine bay frames a large opening across the middle, which contains modern multi-paned windows and a tall glass entrance door at the center. A small hose tower is also situated at the rear of the building aligned with the medic van bay. Although well maintained, this building retains little physical integrity after the renovations of the 1980s.

Detail for 5968 Rainier AVE / Parcel ID 8113101080 / Inv # SFD013

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Stucco Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Government - Fire Station Plan: Irregular
Structural System: Unknown No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Politics/Government/Law
Changes to Original Cladding: Extensive
Changes to Plan: Moderate
Changes to Windows: Extensive
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Seattle Fire Department, Centennial Commemorative, 1889-1989. Portland, OR: Taylor Pub. Co., c1989.

Photo collection for 5968 Rainier AVE / Parcel ID 8113101080 / Inv # SFD013

Photo taken Nov 09, 2000
App v2.0.1.0