Gargoyle of the Day · Gargoyles

Gargoyle of the Day: Old Philadelphia Fire Department Headquarters

 

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Fire Fighter Gargoyle On The Race Street Firehouse (Philadelphia, PA). Photo by takomabibelot via Flickr (Creative Commons license). https://www.flickr.com/photos/takomabibelot/2186800257/in/photolist-4keVot-2WpYed-2WpQDS-2Wq3qG-2Wktjc-4keVsR-4keWri-4keWk2-4keVwH-4kiY6q

A fire house is one of the last places I would expect to see gargoyles, or even not-quite-three-dimensional grotesque carvings, but a set of six firefighter grotesques can be found on the old Race Street Firehouse in Philadelphia. These droll little figures wear old-fashioned fire hats and carry hoses. I believe that the numbers on the hats refer to the engine companies that originally operated out of the firehouse. All six of the firemen seem quite cramped in the small, concrete capitals from which they are formed. They almost look like they’ve been made to sit inside cardboard boxes, and the expressions on some of their faces are a bit distressed. What’s with that?

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Fire Fighter Gargoyle On The Race Street Firehouse (Philadelphia, PA). Photo by takomabibelot via Flickr (Creative Commons license). https://www.flickr.com/photos/takomabibelot/2186802943/in/photolist-4keVot-2WpYed-2WpQDS-2Wq3qG-2Wktjc-4keVsR-4keWri-4keWk2-4keVwH-4kiY6q

 

The Race Street Firehouse was built in the 1920s and operated until 1976. It was eventually converted into a police station and later demolished in 2007. The gargoyles were saved and put in storage, but their future remains undetermined. You can read more about the Old Philadelphia Fire Department Headquarters gargoyles on The Gargoyle Hunter and Northstar Gallery. A Philadelphia fire captain has a great feature on the firehouse and its fate on his blog, including many pictures of the interior and exterior.

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One thought on “Gargoyle of the Day: Old Philadelphia Fire Department Headquarters

  1. You know, living in Innsbruck I have noticed how many brick and concrete buildings of that era incorporated a bit of sculpture or some patterns cast into the facade. I don’t know why we, in societies five or ten times as rich per person, can’t afford to do that any more. They wouldn’t have to be gargoyles and grotesques … abstract patterns or allegories of the Glory of the Market (Praise it Be!) would be prettier than smooth concrete and bare glass and steel.

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