Ladder 15/Engine 33 Firehouse, Boston

The firehouse at the corner of Boylston and Hereford Streets in Boston, on October 27, 1911. Image courtesy of the City of Boston Archives.

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The building in 2015:

This structure is made up of two connected buildings: the Ladder 15/Engine 33 firehouse to the right, and the Boston Police Station 16 on the left.  Both were completed in the mid 1880s, on land that had just recently been filled in the city’s Back Bay neighborhood.  It was designed by Arthur H. Vinal, based on the Richardsonian Romanesque style that was popular in the late 1800s, especially in the Back Bay.

Today, the buildings still stand with few changes to the exterior.  The building to the right is still an active fire station; Engine 33 can barely be seen in the shadows of the 2015 photo, and a fireman is standing in front of the Ladder 15 door.  However, the former police station to the left has changed occupants a few times.  It was used by the Boston Police Department until the early 1970s, and from 1973 until 2006 it was the home of the Institute of Contemporary Art.  Since then, it has been used by the Boston Architectural College.

Fire Department Headquarters, Springfield, Mass

Springfield Fire Department Headquarters on Court Street, around 1900-1913. Photo from Progressive Springfield, Massachusetts (1913).


The scene just over 100 years later, in 2014:


This fire station was built on about the same spot that Parsons Tavern used to occupy for most of the 1800s.  It must have been completed shortly before the first photo was taken, because the caption in Progressive Springfield, Massachusetts describes it as the “new” headquarters, and describes how:

“No city has a more up-to-date fire department and headquarters station than Springfield. The new station on Court Street cost $110,000. Its apparatus is all motor-driven and has modern conveniences for the force. The top floor houses the new fire alarm system installed at an expense of $30,000.  The flying squadron shown above consists of autos for Chief and Assistant Chief, the Electric Aerial Ladder Truck, Combination Electric Wagon and Hose and Water Tower with Gasoline Tractor.  The city expends about $240,000 a year on this department.”

Today, the location of this fire station is now an on-ramp for Interstate 91; the 2014 photo was taken from the parking garage directly underneath the highway.  The city’s two tallest buildings, Monarch Place and Tower Square, can both be seen in the photo, along with Symphony Hall, on the right-hand side.  It’s probably the only building visible that existed when the first photo was taken.  The Springfield Fire Department now has its headquarters on Worthington Street, although I don’t know that they still have any “Combination Electric Wagons” on the force.