Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Central Fire Station

Portsmouth’s Central Fire Station is located at 170 Court Street, on the southeast corner of Court and Fleet Streets.

The first motorized fire truck arrived in Portsmouth in 1912. In that year, Chief Engineer John D. Randall recommended that the old Central Engine House on Court Street, which had been in use since 1863, should be replaced by a modern facility. 

Four years later, the city chose the site of the old County Court House, next door to the Central Engine House, for the new Central Fire Station. The cornerstone was laid in 1916, and for $85,000 in costs, the new station opened in 1920.

The futuristic facility was built of brick, with six garage doors for equipment on the first floor, and a second floor for living quarters. This was the first fire station in Portsmouth that did not have stalls for horses; it was designed to house automotive firefighting equipment.

In Receipts and Expenditures of the City of Portsmouth For the Year Ending December 31, 1920, city Chief Engineer William F. Woods wrote the following for his Annual Report of the Portsmouth Fire Department:

“Our new Central Fire Station, completed this year, is second to none in New England. This building takes the place of the Hanover Street Station, the old Central Station and the Court Street Station. With this new building and the new motor apparatus, the Fire Department is over 50 per cent  more efficient."

Almost a century later, the Central Fire Station is still in operation. The black-and-white photographs on this page were taken from various Annual Reports for the city of Portsmouth. The one above appeared in 1954.

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