Fire Station Reuse Success: Renton Historical Museum

The Renton Historical Museum just southeast of Seattle is in an eye-catching building that doesn’t look like any museum I’ve seen before. And it’s no wonder: this building, with its Art Moderne curves and three central doors was originally the Renton fire station. Needless to say, even as a fire station, this building is pretty styish.

The fire station, which stands at Houser Way and Mill Avenue South in Renton’s downtown area, was the first fire station in Renton to be used by a full time, paid, fire department. It was designed by Ivan M. Palmaw and built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1942. It is the last standing Works Progress Administration (WPA) building in Renton. The museum opened in 1970. 

The Renton fire station is one of several great reuse projects I’ve seen for fire stations recently. Fire stations are an architecture type that needs to be upgraded with technology to meet the needs of their communities. So how are old fire stations getting reused? Just in the greater Seattle area: the previous fire station in Coupeville is now the welcome center, and Ballard’s historic fire station is now a restaurant.

Sources and Further Reading:

Check out historic views of the building here (no date) and here (with fire trucks, ca. 1946).

The Fire Station was part of an I-405 survey, available here.

The architect, Ivan Palmaw (1896-1979), was local to the Seattle area. He emigrated from Russia in 1926 and went to the University of Washington for architecture. He designed the Russian Orthodox Church in the south Lake Union area. DAHP has a good write-up about Palmaw, here.

The WPA did some amazing projects throughout the Unites States, including the Bayshore Boulevard ballustrade in Tampa, Florida, which I recently wrote about here.

And of course, especially if you’re planning on stopping by, you should check out the Renton History Museum website.

Have a great week!

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