Survey and Research
Charlotte Fire Station
1. Name and location of the
property: The property known as
Charlotte Fire Station 7 is located at 3210 North Davidson Street in
2. Name, address, and telephone
number of the current owner of the property:
City of Charlotte
c/o Curt Walton, City Manager
600 East 4th Street
Charlotte, N.C. 28202-2816
Telephone: (704) 336-2244
3. Representative photographs of
the property: This report
contains representative photographs of the property.
4. A map depicting the location
of the property: This report
contains maps depicting the location of the property. The UTM of the
property is 17 517722E 3900253N
5. Current Tax Parcel Reference
to the property: The tax
parcel number of the property is 083-085-15.
6. A brief historical sketch of
the property: This report
contains a brief historical sketch of the property prepared by Dr. Dan L.
7. A brief architectural
description of the property:
This report contains a brief architectural description prepared by Stewart
8. Documentation of why and in
what ways the property meets the criteria for designation set forth in
a. Special significance in terms of
its history, architecture and/or cultural importance:
The Commission judges that the property known as Charlotte Fire Station 7
possesses special significance in terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The
Commission bases its judgment on the following considerations:
1) Charlotte Fire Station 7 stands as
originally built in 1935, when the city of Charlotte established the station
to service the North Charlotte neighborhood.
2) Charlotte Fire Station 7 represents
the economic importance and social vitality of the North Charlotte
neighborhood, even as it has seen the area evolve from a mill town to a
thriving, local historic district.
3) Charlotte Fire Station 7 has special
historical and institutional significance as a structure that originally
housed both a fire company and a jail cell.
4) Charlotte Fire Station 7 has special
significance architecturally as a typical local example of the “storefront
style” urban fire station designed to blend in with the pre-existing built
b. Integrity of design, setting,
workmanship, materials, feeling and/or association: The
Commission contends that the architectural description prepared by Stewart
Gray demonstrates that Charlotte Fire Station 7 meets this criterion.
9. Ad Valorem Tax Appraisal:
The Commission is aware that designation would allow the owner to apply for
an automatic deferral of 50% of the Ad Valorem taxes on all or any portion
of the property which becomes a "historic landmark." The current appraised
value of the building is $297,300. The current appraised value of the 1.335
acres of land is $66,800. The property is zoned C700. The property is
exempt from the payment of Ad Valorem Taxes.
A Brief History of
the Long Creek High School Gymnasium
historical significance of Fire Station Number 7 is best understood within
the context of the evolution of firefighting in Charlotte, N.C. Like
other emerging industrial and commercial cities, Charlotte had to find ways to prevent
widespread destruction of its man-made environment by fire. The increased
concentration of structures, many built with highly combustible materials,
and some soaring to unprecedented heights, jeopardized the viability of
urban life and necessitated the development of more systematic means to
combat conflagrations. 1
Fire Truck in
front of Fire Station 7
As elsewhere, the
first firefighting companies in Charlotte were made up of volunteers. Three
were operating by 1865, the Hornet Steam Engine and Hose Company, the
Independent Hook and Ladder Company, and the Neptune Hand Engine Company,
the last organized and manned by African Americans.2
Theretofore, the residents of Charlotte, like those in other cities, had
joined together as volunteers in bucket brigades to put down flames.
The City of Charlotte established the Charlotte Fire Department on August 1,
1887, after the volunteer firemen resigned over disagreements with the City.3
Volunteer firefighters throughout the country were generally not held in
high esteem. The public saw them as a "public menace," as a rowdy
bunch that exhibited many of the worst habits of male behavior.4 The
heroic image of firemen as rescuers did not fully emerge until the late nineteenth
century, when firefighters became municipal employees and began to emphasize
the saving of human life rather than the protection of property.5
Municipal Fire Station
Charlotte's first municipal fire station, destroyed in the 1970s, stood
near the intersection of East
Trade Street and College Street. A major
improvement in Charlotte's firefighting facilities occurred in 1891, when an
imposing municipal building was erected at the corner of North Tryon and
Fifth Sts. This City Hall and Fire Station
served Charlotte until October 1925, when the City moved its
operations to a new municipal complex on East Trade St. and the former City
Hall was destroyed.6 Architecturally,
Charlotte's first two fire stations were grand, lavishly decorated brick
structures. Partly a manifestation of the design tastes of the era,
these buildings, it was hoped, would serve as commodious living quarters for
firefighters and thereby improve their sense of morality and civic duty and
underscore their heroic image.
". . . the picture of the fireman risking all to save a child from a burning
building was utmost in everyone's mind," writes historian Rebecca Zurier.7
taken of a parade on E. Trade St. for the Confederate Veteran's Parade in
1929, shows the original Fire Station in the streetscape on the left.
Charlotte Fire Station Number
built in 1935 and was designed by Charles Christian Hook (1870-1938), an
architect of local and regional importance in the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries.8 A native of
Wheeling, W. Va. and graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.,
Hook had settled in Charlotte in 1891 to teach mechanical drawing in the
Charlotte Public Schools and had established an architectural practice here the
next year. Initially involved primarily in the design of homes
in Dilworth, Charlotte's first streetcar suburb, Hook would go on to be the
architect for a broad array of structures in Charlotte and its environs,
including many municipal buildings.9
C. C. Hook
Station No. 1. The building is not extant.
Also the architect for the new City
Hall and Fire Station on East Trade St. that opened in 1925, Hook fashioned Fire Station
Number 7 as a facility reflective of the design principles and
programmatic needs that had come to be associated with firehouses by the
1920s.10 The replacement of horses by the first
motorized fire engines in Charlotte in 1911 meant that stations thereafter
would not have to accommodate draft animals.11 "With
the shift 'from oats to gasoline,' the requirements of the fire station
changed," states Rebecca Zurier.12 A greater
ability to focus upon the health of firefighters now became possible, which led to the
incorporation of such amenities as cement floors rather than
wooden floors, ample windows for ventilation, and the placement of kitchens
in stations to support a two-platoon system of labor, thereby shortening the
work week for firemen.13
Station No. 6
Architects were also increasingly called upon to
design fire stations that would be acceptable to suburbanites, many of whom
were irate over the prospect of institutional buildings appearing in their
neighborhoods.14 That Hook was able to
respond effectively to this requirement is demonstrated by his design for
Charlotte Fire Station No. 6, erected in 1928-29 on Laurel Avenue, which
continues to function as a firehouse on the edge of the fashionable Eastover
neighborhood.15 Fire Station No. 7 responds to
the same desire to be sensitive to its streetscape. Situated in the
commercial core of the North Charlotte Mill Village, it takes on the
characteristics of the surrounding buildings in terms of scale, style, and
construction materials.16 Also reflective of its
industrial neighborhood was the fact that a jail cell was placed in the
building, most likely to hold "rowdy" textile workers who labored in the
nearby Highland Park Manufacturing Plant No. 3, the Mercury Mill, and the
Textile Workers On An Outing
three pre-World War Two fire stations in Charlotte continue to serve their
original purpose. They are Fire Station Number 6, Fire Station Number
7, and Fire Station Number 5 erected in 1929 on Tuckaseegee Road, now Wesley Heights Way.18 Two other pre-World War Two properties
survive in Charlotte that once belonged to the Charlotte Fire Department.
They are: former Fire Station Number 2, erected on South Boulevard in
1909 in Dilworth and the Palmer Fire School on Monroe Road on the edge of
the Elizabeth neighborhood.19
Station No. 5
Fire Station No. 2
Here For An Architectural History Of The Property.
Mark Tebeau, Eating Smoke: Fire in Urban America, 1800-1950
(Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), passim.
This is the most complete treatment of the history of firefighting in
the United States. Much of the information contained herein on
Fire Station No. 7 is taken from Guy Aiken, "Survey and Research Report
on Charlotte Fire Station 7," a manuscript completed in December 2007
for a graduate course at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Sally Young and Douglas D. Hickin, Charlotte Fire Department Since
1887 (Dallas: Taylor Publishing Company, 1988), 6.
Rebecca Zurier, The American Firehouse: An Architectural and Social
History (New York: Abbeville Press, 1978), 40.
Lois Moore Yandle, The Spirit of a Proud People: Pictures and Stories
of Highland Park Manufacturing Mill #3 and the People in the Village of
North Charlotte (Columbia, SC: Lois Moore Yandle, 1997), 7.
Charlotte Building Permit No. 506 (December 15, 1934).
Levine Museum of the New South, Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers:
Charlotte and the Carolina Piedmont in the New South, permanent
exhibit (Charlotte, 2002).
Charlotte Building Permit 506 (December 15, 1934).
Charlotte News (September 17, 1938).
Ibid., 72 (caption), 71 (caption).