The Providence Preservation Society (PPS) has announced its Most Endangered Properties for 2023. This year’s list puts a focus on publicly-owned buildings, an effort to emphasize the urgency of decades of deferred maintenance, neglect, or under-utilization that is reaching a critical point.
The Humboldt Fire Station was built in 1906 . . . [and] decommissioned in 2017 as the neighborhood’s call volume had become too low to justify the number of fire trucks. The building is still lightly used by the fire department, but its full potential is far from realized. While the needs of the neighborhood have shifted away from robust fire service, it does not mean that the building cannot provide other services for the city – today, most emergency calls are related to health and require Emergency Medical Technicians. EMTs and other social services would benefit from having stations across the city to serve each neighborhood effectively. Using decommissioned buildings like the Humboldt Fire Station would be an opportunity to achieve that.
This Beaux-Arts-style fire station is the only one of its kind in Providence. The Humboldt Fire Station made the list back in 2017, but clearly nothing has happened since. Maybe a new mayor will get inspired. (I like that the PPS includes suggestions for how these buildings can be used going forward.)
I’m relieved to hear that the building is still being “lightly used,” as barely discernible voices are still echoing over a police/fire scanner they have left turned on . . . a little creepy.
Humboldt Fire Station, 155 Humboldt Avenue, (directions)
The eaves need some attention. One stretch of copper has come off.
Other public properties on the list include the RIDOT headquarters and garage on Smith Hill, the Humboldt Avenue Fire Station, and the Urban League of Rhode Island site. The Superman Building also appears on the list for the ninth time.