Poppleton Fire Station
756-760, Baltimore St., W., Baltimore, Baltimore City
The Poppleton Fire Station (former Engine Company No. 38) is a Tudor Revival style building directly derived from such prototypes as the entrance to the Clock Court at Hampton Court Palace, the gateways at St. John’s College, Cambridge, and the entrance to Tattershall Castle. Built of brick with running bond on the front façade and common bond on the other elevations, the building is one large bay wide, approximately nine bays long, and two stories high with a gable roof. The most significant features of the building occur on the façade and in the interior. The façade is a brick and limestone composition featuring a central, Tudor archway flanked by octagonal towers and crowned with crenellation. The archway features engaged colonettes with carved, foliated capitals containing firemen racing to extinguish a fire. The second story has a row of mullioned windows. The interior features a first floor apparatus room having glazed multicolored tile mosaic walls and ornate pressed metal ceilings. All of the second floor spaces have pressed metal ceilings as well. The integrity of this building is intact except for the removal of the exterior wood doors, minor alteration of the rear (west) elevation fenestration, removal of the interior sliding poles, and installation of some dropped ceilings on the second floor.
The Poppleton Fire Station, designed by Owens and Sisco and built in 1910, is significant to Baltimore City as a distinctive example of fire station architecture, as an excellent example of the Tudor Revival style of architecture, and as a perfect example of the Academic Reaction era in American architectural history. It possesses a unique style among fire stations as well as illustrates all of the distinctive features of early 20th century Baltimore fire stations: rectangular, box form; an elaborate façade; roof cupola and hose tower; two-story interior plan including an apparatus room, bunk room, offices, and dressing room; colorful mosaic interior walls; and ornate pressed metal ceilings. Only Engine House #6 and Engine House #32 share comparable distinctiveness. The careful adaptation of a Tudor gatehouse to a fire station along with the significant features of the octagonal turrets, limestone string courses, carved limestone colonettes, leaded glass windows, and crenellation make the building a unique and well-designed example of the Tudor Revival style within Baltimore. The design approach is archaeological in spirit; as a result, the building is an excellent representative of the Academic Reaction phase of American architecture. In the downtown area, only the designs of the Savings Bank of Baltimore and the old Hansa Haus exhibit comparable historical accuracy. Finally, the building is historically important because it was built at the peak of the most intensive period of expansion ever within the Baltimore City Fire Department. During this time frame, initiated by the Great Fire of 1904, and lasting until 1923, the city acquired only the best apparatus available for its companies, and the design of the Poppleton Fire Station reflects the drive for excellence.