The three-story, four-bay-wide Engine Company No. 16 is often referred to as the "big house," since it is the largest of the city's firehouses and the only one with four apparatus bays. The building became the new home to Engine Company No. 16, formed in 1904; its construction in 1932 represented the last of the historic firehouses erected in downtown Washington, DC.
Engine Company No. 16 is the most important firehouse design of architect Albert L. Harris (1869-1934), who was responsible for the earliest of the interwar period stations. The building was designed as a showpiece, with a higher level of interior and exterior detail than its contemporaries in the outlying neighborhoods. The open tower located on center of the building's gable roof is wholly decorative, as the hose tower is actually on the side and within the body of the building. This tower makes Engine Company No. 16 an identifiable landmark downtown.
Engine Company No. 16's construction also reflects the beginning efforts to consolidate fire facilities and decommission older firehouses. In addition to accommodating fire engines and firefighters themselves, Engine Company No. 16 included a "police and fire clinic, complete with operating room, recovery room, laboratory, and meeting room, capable of accommodating six doctors and numerous patients." More recently, the former clinic on the third-floor accommodates Emergency Medical Services (EMS) offices and a battalion chief.
DC Inventory: January 27, 2011
National Register: May 18, 2011