Engine 46 Firehouse

1401 S. Water Street, Philadelphia
John T. Windrim (attributed), 1894

Significance: Engine 46’s Flemish Revival façade and castle-like tower make it one of the most iconic buildings in the Pennsport neighborhood of South Philadelphia. It is a rare survivor from an era of flamboyantly-designed municipal buildings erected by the City of Philadelphia in the late nineteenth century.  Its high-style trappings, likely the work of noted architect John T. Windrim, reflect the progressive ambitions of a city celebrating the rapid expansion of its schools, parks, and police and fire departments.

Threat: The fire station was abandoned in the 1960s and used as an auto repair shop for two decades before undergoing a successful restaurant conversion in 1994.  It has been vacant since 2006, and in 2013 Cedar Realty Trust received a permit to demolish the building. Widespread neighborhood opposition to the demolition persuaded Cedar to postpone the demolition in hopes that a new tenant for the building can be found.

Recommendations: A number of other former firehouses across Philadelphia have been successfully reused.  The building is an ideal location for a new restaurant or brewpub, but could also house a retail or office tenant in a neighborhood that has benefited from significant investment over the past five years.

Links:
Southwark Historical Society (station history)
Neighborhood petition to save Engine 46

Media coverage of Engine 46:

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