Wilmington Former Firehouses

 

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Updates:

Apr 2020 - Added now closed Station 4, Station 5, Station 6. Also expanded history of the prior Station 1, and updated a few other things.

Oct 2018 - Updated history of Old Station 3, which is also Old Station 4.

Introduction

The Wilmington Fire Department dates back to 1846, when the first volunteer fire company was organized. By 1867, six fire companies were protecting the coastal city. One year later, the first steam fire engine was delivered. A fully-paid fire department was inaugurated on December 1, 1897. It consisted of 30 men, three steamers, three hose reels, and one hook and ladder truck. Ten years later, the first fireboat was placed in service in 1907. The first motor apparatus was purchased in 1912 and within six years, the department was fully motorized.

Old Station 2

602 South 5th Avenue
Opened 1915 / Closed 1956
Presently event space

In April 1915, Engine Company 2 relocated one block west to the corner of 5th and Castle Streets. Their new station housed six men, two horses, and a two-horse hose wagon.

Designed by local architect James F. Gause, Jr., the Italianate structure also housed a bell relocated from the corner of 4th and Dock Streets. The bell sounded alarms until the last fire horse was retired in 1918.

In 1956, the facility was closed and Engine 2 relocated to the new Headquarters Station on Dock Street. The old fire bell was also relocated to that location.

In 1966, a new Station 2 opened at 3403 Park Avenue. The old station presently serves as office space.

Old Station 3 / Old Station 4

602 North 4th Street
Opened 1907 / Closed 1972
Presently bar and restaurant

Opened on December 31, 1907, the combination engine and market house replaced an earlier Station 3 at that location.

The two-story brick building, created by architect H. L. Bonitz and builder R. H. Brady, first housed Hose Company 3 and later Engine Company 3.

The market house was located in an adjoining one-story structure

By 1910, Station 3 housed six men, two horses, a hose wagon, and a second-size Silsby steamer.

In 1952, Engine 3 relocated to Headquarters at the corner of 4th and Dock Streets. In 1972, a new Station 3 opened at 3933 Princess Place Drive.

When Engine 3 was relocated to Station 1 in 1952, a new engine company, Engine 4, was activated, and placed in service at the 4th Street fire station. This was Wilmington's first Station 4.

Engine 4 remained at that location until 1972, when it was relocated to Station 3. The fire station was closed after 65 years of service.

The next Station 4 opened in 1985 at 310 Wallace Avenue.

Formerly occupied by a gym and renovated in 2003, the old station is presently used by the Police Department.

Old Station 3

3933 Princess Place Drive
1972 to 2015
Presently fire department storage

Station 3 on Princess Place Drive opened on December 21, 1972. Engine 3 was relocated from Station 1.

Station 3 closed on November 19, 2015, when a new Station 4 opened at 114 Cinema Drive, and the response areas of old Station 3 (Princess Place Drive) and old Station 4 (Wallace Avenue) were consolidated. Old Station 3 is presently used for fire department storage.

Old Station 4

310 Wallace Avenue
1985 to 2015
Presently golf course storage

Station 4 on Wallace Avenue opened in August 1985. Engine 4 was relocated from Station 1. It was dedicated on September 7, 1985, along with Station 6 on the same day. Both were of identical design and protected newly annexed areas of the city.

Station 4 closed on November 5, 2015. Two weeks later, on November 19,   November 2015, new Station 4 opened at 114 Cinema Drive, and the response areas of old Station 3 (Princess Place Drive) and old Station 4 (Wallace Avenue) were consolidated.

On the date of Station 4's closure, Engine 4 relocated to Station 8 to become Engine 8, which was operating as a quint company. The current Engine 8 was renamed Truck 8. The following year, Engine 4 was reactivated on June 2016, and stationed at Headquarters.  

Old Station 4 is currently used as storage for the adjacent municipal golf course.

Old Station 5

1702 Wrightsville Avenue
Opened 1931 / Closed 1965
Presently residence and dance studio

Wilmington Fire Station 5 opened on October 31, 1931 at the corner of Wrightsville Avenue and 17th Street.

The Mission Style structure with stucco walls and tile roof was designed by architects Lynch and Foard and constructed by U. A. Underwood.

On December 15, 1965, the facility was closed and Engine 5 relocated to Headquarters on Dock Street. In 1974, a new Station 5 opened at 310 Wellington Avenue.

The two-story brick building with 4,300 square-feet was renovated in 1974 to house the headquarters of the city's Traffic Division. It was sold to private owners on December 30, 1994.

The old station presently serves a residence and commercial dance studio.

 

Old Station 5

1502 Wellington Avenue
1974 to 2019
Presently empty

After nine years with Engine 5 operated at Station 1, a new Station 5 opened on Wellington Avenue on August 2, 1974.

Station 5 closed on May 18, 2019, when a new Station 5 opened at 680 Shipyard Boulevard, and the response areas of old Station 5 (Wellington Avenue) and old Station 6 (Carolina Beach Road) were consolidated. Old Station 5 is presently empty.

Old Station 6

302 Willard Street
Opened 1943 / Closed 1985
Presently municipal offices

Wilmington's sixth fire station opened on April 31, 1943 at the intersection of 3rd and Willard Streets. Erected in 1942, the station opening was delayed due to lack of equipment.

The two-story, single-bay brick building cost $35,000. It was built primarily to protect war housing around Greenfield Lake and other buildings.

In August 1985, Engine 6 relocated to a new Station 6 at 3939 Carolina Beach Road.

The old station is presently used as office space for the Parks and Recreation Department.

 

Old Station 6

3939 Carolina Beach Road
1985 to 2019
Presently empty

Station 6 on Carolina Beach Road opened on August 1, 1985. It was dedicated on September 7, 1985.

Station 6 closed on May 18, 2019, when a new Station 5 opened at 680 Shipyard Boulevard, and the response areas of old Station 5 (Wellington Avenue) and old Station 6 (Carolina Beach Road) were consolidated. Old Station 6 is presently empty.

Headquarters Stations

Photo courtesy New Hanover County Public Library, Dr. Robert M. Fales Collection

Three headquarters stations were located the corner of 4th and Dock Streets. By 1898, the fire department's central station consisted of two buildings: a two-story building at 16 South 4th Street housing a chemical engine company and a two-story wooden building at 313 Dock Street housing a hook and ladder company. By 1904, a wooden bell tower had been erected behind the buildings. In 1907, the chemical engine house was replaced with a two-story brick building addressed 14 South 4th Street. Also that year, the hook and ladder house was closed and sold. By 1915, a training tower had been added to the rear of the fire station. Also that year, the bell from the old tower was moved to Station 2 at the corner of Castle and 5th Streets.

Drawing from Hose & Nozzle archives, courtesy Troy Fire Department

In November 1954, constructed started on a new headquarters station. The old 1907 building was demolished and operations were temporarily moved to 3 South 2nd Street. In April 1956, the completed station opened and a formal dedication was held on May 23, 1956. The five-bay building included space for three engine companies, one aerial ladder company, one foam truck, and one auxiliary truck. The two-story facility also housed the fire department's maintenance garage and administrative offices.

In 2000, the Headquarters Station was moved again to 801 Market Street. The facility was needed for reasons ranging from the cost of making the current building handicapped-accessible, to the facility's outdated heating systems, to the insufficient parking for employees and visitors.

The long-planned replacement was double the size of the 1956 building, with 30,887 square-feet of planned space. The project was planned to start construction in the summer of 1997, with completion in the fall of 1998. Delays extended the opening to about January 2000.

The old 1956 building was demolished and a church was constructed on the property.

Empie Park Fire Station

On December 15, 1965, a new Station 3 opened at 3403 Park Avenue. On October 31, 2010, the facility was closed due to a mold problem. The department's safety officer found the mold on October 7, prompting the subsequent closure The station's crews and equipment were moved to Station 2 on Princess Place Drive.

The facility was already planned for closure, with a replacement to be erected on the same site. The closure was planned for January 2011. The building was demolished in the summer of 2011. The new Station 2 opened on July 31, 2012. It was dedicated on August 18, 2012. 

Matt White photo

 

Map

References

Wilmington Fire Department

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps via NC LIVE

Requires password available from your local library. After logging into NC LIVE, click Browse Resources and select Maps

New Hanover County Public Library

A book about the Wilmington Fire Department were published in 1985. Search the Library Catalog for keywords "Wilmington Fire." The book Wilmington, North Carolina: An Architectural and Historical Portrait by Tony P. Wrenn was also consulted, along with materials from the Bill Reaves Collection

Legeros Fire Line on Facebook

Postings about Wilmington fire station histories were used to correct and expand historical information in April 2020, including this posting.

The Series

Charlotte
Durham
Fayetteville
Goldsboro
Greensboro
High Point
Kinston
New Bern
Raleigh
Rocky Mount / Wilson
Wilmington
Winston-Salem

Note

A version of this article was published on FireNews.net on October 5, 2005.

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