Fired up

A former fire station is home to two Tulsa companies.



Pictured above in the 1950s, the brick structure at 1400 S. Trenton Ave. was the Tulsa Fire Department’s Station No. 8 for more than 65 years. After an extensive renovation, it is now home to the offices of architect James Boswell and Station8 Branding. Boswell and David Clark co-own the building, seen below.

Courtesy Tulsa Fire Department

Evan Taylor

 

For more than 60 years, Tulsa firefighters answered the call at Fire Station No. 8.

Architect James Boswell and Station8 Branding, co-owned by Laura Crouch and David Clark, recently turned the historic building into a new business hotspot.

The Tulsa Fire Department used the brick, bungalow-style structure at 1400 S. Trenton Ave. from 1925-92. The building’s early days are mysterious; its architect is unknown, and the original blueprints are missing. Architect Russell L. Magee renovated the station in 1966, but his upgrades pale in comparison to the recent incarnation. 

Retired fireman Jerry Burch was based at Station No. 8 from March 1987 until the end; his Engine 8 B Platoon was the last to close the station at the end of a 24-hour shift. 

“We were all really bummed out,” he says. 

Burch fondly remembers his time at the station, although he says it was like “being on submarine duty because the station was so small.”

Luckily, everyone got along. In fact, they are “still friends to this day,” Burch says. Now, the platoon bonds over barbecues and birthdays rather than burning buildings.

The station’s “coziness” was its downfall; the structure was built to accommodate horse-drawn fire engines. By the 1990s, modern fire trucks had simply outgrown No. 8. 

The City of Tulsa used the building as office space until the Tulsa Development Authority put it on the market in 2010. That is when Boswell and Clark arrived on the scene.

Besides some fragile masonry and spatial problem solving, the renovation went off without a hitch, creating a space that stayed true to the old building while realizing a very modern vision. 

“Anything we took out that was original we tried to put back in some other place,” explains Clark, indicating where brick was removed to accommodate larger windows and doors, and then reused to fill gaps elsewhere.

A salvaged neon sign of the Tulsa skyline and a repurposed motorcycle make bold statements in the lobby, which also contains two old-fashioned fire doors (sourced from one of Boswell’s other projects). And while the quintessential fire pole was unnecessary during the functional days of the original single-story station, there are plans to add one.

The recent upstairs addition is purposefully “drawn back” from the original structure in a stark contrast of floor-to-ceiling windows. The design visually separates the two parts and shows respect for the historic architecture, Clark says. 

Burch, who happened by the building during its renovation, is impressed by Boswell’s reimagining of No. 8. He especially likes the addition of a spacious balcony area looking toward the downtown skyline. 

Boswell and Clark plan to make the most of the social space this spring — and gather more photographs and stories — by hosting a party for the retired firemen of No. 8. 

Burch has no shortage of memories to share. He recalls lying in bed during his shifts and pondering his 1930s counterparts — “what they experienced, what their lives were like” — as he fell asleep.

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August 2019

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