Tulsa Fire Alarm Building
Tulsa Fire Alarm Building
Tulsa Fire Alarm Building in 2007
|Architect||Kershner, Frederick V.; Smith & Senter|
|Architectural style||Art Deco|
|NRHP Reference #||03000879|
|Added to NRHP||September 2, 2003|
The Tulsa Fire Alarm Building is a historic Art Deco building at 1010 East Eighth Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was built in 1931 and served as the central reporting station for the Tulsa Fire Department. Fires were reported from alarm boxes spread around town to this building and the firemen in this building would alert the fire station closest to the fire. At the time of its construction this system was the best available alarm system. The building is just east of the Inner Dispersal Loop in Tulsa's Pearl District.
The building was designed by architect Frederick V. Kershner and inspired by Mayan temple design.[a] It is relatively small, containing only 6,090 square feet (566 m2) of space. The building has a structural steel frame and masonry walls. It features an extensive terra cotta frieze program, with several fire-related motifs. A recurring theme on the front facade is a double-headed dragon. The large frieze over the front door depicts a half-naked male figure holding in his hands Gamewell alarm tape[b] (part of the first alarm system used in this building; the paper tape was punched with the number of the fire alarm box making the call) and who is flanked by two helmeted firefighters. The building originally had two large art deco style lanterns above the front doorway.[c] The back side of the building has four gargoyle-like figures topped with a hatchet on either side of nine windows.
The basement once housed an auxiliary generator system. Although the building was completed in 1931, it took three more years to complete the hookups to the alarm boxes that were dipersed throughout the city. The system went into service in 1934.
Change to another use
Advances in alarm system and dispatching technology made the Gamewell obsolete by 1958, although Tulsa maintained its system as a backup until 1966. The Fire Alarm Office moved to the newer Police & Municipal Courts Building at the Civic Center in 1981. The building was used by the Fire department until 1984. It was left vacant and fell into disrepair. In 1994, it was purchased by Martin Newman, chairman of the Tulsa Preservation Commission. During the hiatus,it was damaged by a flood in 1984 and by vandalism. In 2000, The American Lung Association of Oklahoma purchased the building as its new headquarters. After a $5 million fund-raising campaign, the renovation of the building was completed in 2005. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003, under Criteria A and C. The NRIS number is 03000879.
Conversion to a fire fighting museum
The Tulsa Development Authority reached an agreement to sell the building to the Firefighters Union for a museum in 1986-1987, but the union was unable to raise the necessary funding for the project.
In March 2015, the Tulsa World reported that the American Lung Association plans to sell the building soon. A group of fire history buffs and other interested people wish to buy the building and turn it into a museum that would display a large collection of fire fighting memorabilia.
The Tulsa World reported on July 29, 2015, that the building had been sold to The Carol Tandy Foundation, a private organization, which would donate it to Tulsa Firefighters Museum Inc. (TFM).
- Kershner was a young architect employed by Smith and Senter, the Tulsa architectural design firm who had been awarded the contract for the building.
- The alarm system originally developed by James Gamewell was considered the state of the art when the Tulsa Fire Alarm Building was constructed. By 1910, the Gamewell system dominated the U. S. market for fire alarm devises.
- The original brass entrance doors and the decorative lanterns were removed by vandals.
- National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- Wade, Jarrel. "Local firefighting supporters raising money to buy Tulsa Fire Alarm Building for museum." Tulsa World. March 20, 2015.
- Gille, Rossy. "Historic Fire Alarm Building May Become Museum." GTR Newspapers, March 14, 2015. Accessed July 30, 2015
- "Fire Alarm Building." Tulsa Preservation Commission. Accessed July 29, 2015.
- Hinchey, Kyle."Plans for Tulsa Fire Museum move one step closer with purchase of building." Tulsa World. July 29, 2015. Accessed July 29, 2015.