Constructed from 1901 to 1902, the Congress Heights Firehouse first and foremost provided emergency service to the area, but also had a real estate investment aspect to it that helped further develop the neighborhood. The land donated to build the firehouse came from Colonel Arthur Randle, a real estate developer and speculator who hoped that the firehouse’s construction would ease the concerns of potential buyers, as the area fell outside of the fire call box system and municipal water supply. Designed by Snowden Ashford, the architect would eventually become the city’s first Municipal Architect and is credited with the design of multiple firehouses – and other public buildings – throughout the District.
Designed in a Mediterranean Revival style, the firehouse was quite impressive due to its 60-foot observation tower. Because the building sits on a hill, the tower also had a bell installed as an alert system for firefighters to know when an emergency occurred. As the sophistication of the call box system increased, some speculated that the building’s hill-top location was meant to help the horse-powered fire carriages go down the hill easier.
This site is listed in the Firehouses in Washington, DC: 1806-1945 Multiple Property Document.
DC Inventory: July 22, 2004
National Register: June 27, 2007