Home Page
Link to Seattle Department of Neighborhoods home page

Seattle Historical Sites

New Search

Summary for 5503 33rd AVE / Parcel ID 8827901028 / Inv # SFD017

Historic Name: Fire Station No. 38 Common Name:
Style: Other Neighborhood: North District
Built By: Year Built: 1930
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
Completed in 1930, this small fire station, located in the Bryant neighborhood, was one of three constructed based on an original design by the prominent Seattle Architect Daniel R. Huntington. This one-story reinforced concrete building features a mixture of Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival and Neo-Classical Revival stylistic features, more typically found on larger industrial buildings of that era. There is also an early Moderne quality to the design of the building. Other fire stations built with a similar design include No. 16 in the Green Lake neighborhood, and No. 13 on Beacon Hill, both of which were completed two years earlier in 1928. The design of this fire station differs slightly in that it features a single engine bay at the center flanked by two small wings. This is the only active fire station with a single engine bay. The original design of the other two stations featured a double engine bay with a single large wing extending from one elevation. After opening on November 2, 1930, the station has been in continuous operation with the exception of an eight-month period in the early 1930s. Between April 1933 and January 1934, many stations were closed, and hundreds of firemen were laid off in a move by Mayor John F. Dore to economize due to the financial depression. This fire station was the first to be built in the northeast area of the city. In 1905, the original two-story wood frame Fire Station No. 17 had been constructed in the University District at Roosevelt Way NE and NE 45th Street. This station was one of nine fire stations that were built between 1894 and 1908 using a similar design, including the 1905 Fire Station No. 16 located near Green Lake. The original Fire Station No. 17 was replaced in 1930 by a substantially larger building located five blocks to the north. Until the completion of Fire Station No. 38 in 1930, Fire Stations No. 16 and 17 served the entire northeast area of the city. At the time, this included the neighborhoods south of NE 65th Street and west of 20th Avenue NE. The central portion of North Seattle up to 85th Street had been annexed by the city in 1891. However, Ravenna was not annexed until 1907, and Laurelhurst not until 1910. As a result, residential and commercial development in this portion of northeast Seattle did not really begin until the later 1910s and early 1920s. The Seattle School District built the first permanent buildings for Bryant Elementary School in 1926 and for Laurelhurst Elementary School in 1929. After its construction in 1930, Fire Station No. 38 remained the only fire station in northeast Seattle until the city acquired Fire Station No. 39 from King County in its 1954 annexation of Lake City. By that time, the city had annexed all of the territory up to 145th Street. In 1965, a third fire station was built in the northeast district at 35th Avenue NE and NE 94th Street, about half way between the other two stations. Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1871, Daniel R. Huntington practiced in Denver and New York before his arrival in Seattle in 1904 or 1905. Over the course of his career, Huntington worked in private practice and in partnership with several other prominent Seattle architects, including James H. Schack, Carl F. Gould, and Arthur L. Loveless, in addition to his position as Seattle City Architect from 1912 to 1921. During his career as city architect and later, Huntington designed more than ten fire stations and possibly as many as twenty. After the onset of the Depression in the 1930s, Huntington apparently left active practice, although he was known to have been in the employ of Washington State University from 1944 to 1946. Well regarded by his business associates and professional colleagues for his straightforward and elegantly detailed commissions, Huntington designed a wide variety of civic, commercial, residential and institutional buildings during his prolific career. This fire station is significant for its design and for its associations with the development of the Seattle Fire Department and the northeast Seattle neighborhoods.
Completed in 1930, this one-story reinforced concrete building is located on a corner lot at the intersection of 33rd Avenue NE and NE 55th Street. The flat roof building is comprised of two sections, creating a rectangular footprint, which measures 50 feet by 49 feet. Occupied by an office and crew quarters, a one-story U-shaped portion wraps three sides of a taller engine bay at the center. Stairs along the rear west elevation lead to a lower basement level. A smooth stucco exterior covers the building, which rests on a wide concrete plinth and features Mission/Spanish Colonial Revival and Neo-Classical Revival stylistic features. All of the building’s original multi-paned steel sash windows have been replaced by modern equivalents although the original concrete sills remain. On the principal east elevation, the single engine bay at the center has a gentle arch in the parapet wall above a narrow arched opening with an elaborate surround. Flanked by sconces set with globe lights, this opening contains a multi-paned arched transom above an overhead metal door. This modern door replaced the original pair of double doors. Narrow concrete capitals wrap the corners of the engine bay and give the impression of pilasters. This detail is repeated with plain concrete bands on the building’s other corners, including the corners of the small hose tower situated at the rear of the engine bay, as well as along the north, south and west elevations. A wide concrete cornice band extends along the upper wall of the east elevation on either side of the center engine bay. On the southern end of this elevation, a large multi-paned window is situated adjacent to a recessed entrance door, which is also a modern replacement. The northern end contains a single large multi-paned window at the center. The south elevation has five tall narrow window openings evenly spaced along its length. Two openings have been filled with concrete with the exception of a narrow window band at the very top. The north elevation has four similar window openings at the eastern end and three smaller openings at the western end, all of which remain intact. A row of various sized window openings lines the rear west elevation. Despite the extensive window alterations, this distinctive and well-maintained building retains good physical integrity.

Detail for 5503 33rd AVE / Parcel ID 8827901028 / Inv # SFD017

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Concrete, Stucco Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Government - Fire Station Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Politics/Government/Law
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Windows: Extensive
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
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 5503 33rd AVE / Parcel ID 8827901028 / Inv # SFD017

Photo taken Nov 02, 2000
App v2.0.1.0