Engine Company No. 27

Engine Company No. 27 promoted Black firefighters as the second all-Black unit in DC.

Built in 1908 in then predominately rural Deanwood, the construction of Engine Company No. 27 served to most likely protect the railroad, as there were few residential buildings nearby. Up until 1914, Chemical Company No. 1 inhabited the space prior to Engine Company No. 27 and served areas not yet connected to fire hydrants.

The firehouse reflects the "Eclectic Period" (1897-1916) of the "City Beautiful Movement," a popular reform philosophy in North American architecture and urban planning during the 1890s and 1900s. The building is a hipped-roof, Renaissance Revival "villa" style, designed by architect Leon Dessez (1858-1918). Dessez designed at least six other firehouses, all of which had the same plan and elevational composition. However, Engine Company No. 27 is the most modest of all Dessez’s firehouses.

Engine Company No. 27 is home to DC's second all-Black firefighting unit. In 1945, Joseph A. Briscoe was promoted from lieutenant to captain and served as the first station commander, Rafael Smith was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant, and Clarence J. Short was promoted from private to sergeant. Often times, promotion for Black firefighters was only possible through these segregated units prior to the dissolution of Jim Crow laws.

Nominated by the Capitol Fire Museum
DC Inventory: January 27, 2011
National Register: May 18, 2011

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4201 Minnesota Avenue, NE