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2008 Top Ten Endangered Sites

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7. Firehall No. 15 (1913) (Updated - Saved in 2012)

Firehall 153003 East 22nd at Nootka

From its position on a prominent rise in this eastside neighbourhood, Firehall 15 commands a view of the city and a special place in the hearts of local residents.

This well-loved community landmark is known for its striking hose tower, complete with brass pole, its Craftsman detail and distinctive bracketed eaves, its handsome interior woodwork and its ornate pressed-metal ceilings.

When talk began some time ago of replacing the 85 year old Firehall #15, local groups and community members banded together and worked tirelessly to convince city council to preserve this city-owned heritage building that is filled with community memories.

Victory for the community came on July 20, 2006. Council voted 10-1 to preserve and restore the firehall on its current site and incorporate it into the new firehall. The celebration was short lived.

In an about-face on March 1, 2007, city council voted 6-4 to demolish the building. The old firehall currently sits in political limbo waiting for a change of heart from one city councilor to breath new life into its deteriorating frame. A 2/3 council majority is required to overturn a previous council decision, and this technicality means that the building cannot be demolished until someone changes their mind.

Heritage Vancouver urges city council to “do the right thing” and restore its own heritage building. This is a great opportunity for the city to become an exemplary heritage role model and a leader in the field of heritage conservation by preserving this community landmark.

Firehall 15
Summer 2007 ; Firehall #15, front; Heritage Vancouver photo  
Summer 2007 ; Firehall #15, front; Heritage Vancouver photo  
Summer 2007 ; Firehall #15, side detail, also showing stucco which covers original wood siding; Heritage Vancouver photo  
Firehall #15, Detail of the 2nd floor front balcony (now covered in); Don Luxton photo  
Firehall #15, Detail of the interior original pressed metal ceiling; Don Luxton photo  
Firehall   Firehall
Summer 2007; Firehall #15, from rear; Heritage Vancouver photo   Summer 2007; Detail of the hose tower. Heritage Vancouver photo

Updated May 9, 2009: Council has approved retention of one of Vancouver's last Edwardian-era firehalls. Despite our support of this initiative, we wish to express grave concerns about the potential approach to this restoration as described in the Staff Report. The description of the exterior work indicates a serious disregard of Heritage Standards & Guidelines, specifically the destruction of exterior features and their replication through the application of a new rain screen façade. It is too early in the project to make sweeping decisions about the approach to restoration. We strongly suggest that before any decisions are made, that there be sufficient investigation of the condition of exterior materials, and that every effort be made to retain, rather than replace, the historic exterior fabric.

Updated May 12, 2012: Success! After appearing on our Top 10 Endangered Sites list for five times over the last dozen years, starting in 2001, the grand old lady Firehall #15 has a full new lease on life, restored, looking better than original (if possible!), and incorporated into a new firehall. It's grand re-opening was held May 12, 2012, just shy of it's 100th year birthday.

Previous Top 10 lists: 2001, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009


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