Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

105 N WATER ST

Architecture and History Inventory
105 N WATER ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
NAMES
Historic Name:Milwaukee Fire Department Engine House #15
Other Name:BDC Building
Contributing: Yes
Reference Number:68326
PROPERTY LOCATION
Location (Address):105 N WATER ST
County:Milwaukee
City:Milwaukee
Township/Village:
Unincorporated Community:
Town:
Range:
Direction:
Section:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
PROPERTY FEATURES
Year Built:1915
Additions: 1940
Survey Date:1984
Historic Use:fire house
Architectural Style:Twentieth Century Commercial
Structural System:
Wall Material:Brick
Architect:CHARLES ELLIS MALIG
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished?:No
Demolished Date:
DESIGNATIONS
National/State Register Listing Name: Historic Third Ward District
National Register Listing Date:3/8/1984
State Register Listing Date:1/1/1989
National Register Multiple Property Name:
NOTES
Additional Information:SEE HAER. M IN THE PHOTO CODES IS SHORT FOR MVIS.

This two-story fire department engine house has a brown brick veneer exterior, a rusticated stone basement and a central entrance with a decorative surround. The roof and the floors are made of concrete.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND SIGNIFICANCE:

With 27 miles of canal, river and lake frontage within its domain, the Milwaukee Fire Department has relied on its fireboats for icebreaking, snow dispersal, lifesaving, transfusing water to its land companies, as well as firefighting. The first fireboat was launched in 1889 and by the early 1900's four stations were in operation, two of which were positioned near the numerous highly-cumbustible structures lining the Menomonee and lower Milwaukee Rivers - the coal docks, hay and feed sheds, grain elevators and warehouses. One of these early stations was built at the confluence of the two rivers and replaced in 1915 by this new fireboat house. Designed to accomodate fireboat personnel around the clock, the building once had a 36 inch brass pole leading from the dormitory on the top floor to the dock level. As the number of fire-prone structures diminished and the City water system improved, the need for boats and crew declined. In 1940, this building (Engine #15) was one of three remaining stations and was remodeled to house the Fire Inspection Bureau on the first and second floors. When the Inspection Bureau was later relocated, this building was shared by Civil Defense, then used for city records storage. As of 1983 it was the only fireboat station operating in Milwaukee.

Interior remodeled in 1940.
Bibliographic References:MILWAUKEE BUSINESS JOURNAL 4/27/1996. Building Permits. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 12/2/1996. Historic Third Ward Walking Tour, Historic Third Ward Association, 1998. Permit. Historic Third Ward Historic Walking Tour, Historic Third Ward Association, 2009.
RECORD LOCATION
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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