A glimpse of an abandoned Fire Station in downtown Los Angeles spurred a fantasy of reliving the young punk life I led in New York in the '70's. But here in the '80's M. Bouffant actually experienced my fantasy - his punk band recorded albums in a studio set up in that very building - the audio engineer using the well designed to dry firehoses to acoustically enhance the echo effect.
Intrigued, I started to look for more information about the building. I found the Los Angeles Fire Department's historical webpage that describes Engine Company Number 23, 225 East Fifth Street, in the years shortly after it was built in 1910.
The three story building had room for ten horse stalls, even though the company was intended to be one of the first motorized ones in the department. The luxurious third floor was the chief's suite, and was paneled in Peruvian mahogany and had polished oak floors. I wonder whether it still has its luxurious bathtub and marble shower stall? This would surely rival the Little Tokyo Lofts.
The second floor, where M. Bouffant's band rehearsed, was the captain's quarters, and a dormitory for twenty firefighters. It also had an assembly room and a reading room with built-in bookcases with leaded glass doors.
There were 6 brass poles for the firefighters to slide down to the main floor when responding to a fire.
In 1960, the Engine Company was disbanded and the station was closed. Engine Company 23 re-grouped in 1963, way across town in Pacific Palisades. In 1966 the building on East Fifth Street was designated an historic landmark.
Since that time, it's been used as a location for several films - M. Bouffant mentioned "Ghostbusters," which came out in 1984. Here's the IMDB's list of other films that used Engine Company 23's station as a film or TV location. A made for TV movie starring Richard Rountree can actually be viewed here: "Firehouse" (1973) . There's a great sequence in the opening credits showing the firefighters sliding down the pole and driving the engine out the entrance archway.
I'm sure the building has a much richer history that is yet to be told.M. Bouffant, this is for you:
Photo from The Los Angeles Public Library's photo collection, dated 1980.