What is now a driveway and parking lot at a busy urban intersection was once the site of what was arguably Reno’s most charming fire station. First known as the Southside Station, it was designed by prominent Nevada architect Frederic DeLongchamps to resemble a bungalow, complete with a front porch and meticulously landscaped yard.
Opening in 1917, the station replaced the old Southside at Center and Liberty Streets, a building that had been constructed in 1908 for horse-drawn equipment. This new facility at 532 South Virginia Street was specifically designed to accommodate motorized apparatus, which were just arriving in Reno that year. DeLongchamps designed a second station in a similar style that was built on East Fourth Street at the same time.
The station’s residential look nicely complemented the neighborhood, which had yet to become a commercial corridor. Originally, it was flanked on either side by private homes. In 1927, Frank A. Greene built a brick grocery on the station’s north side, and much later, in 1946, the Hale building appeared to its south.
Inside, the apparatus room extended along the building’s entire north end with a small kitchen at the back. The other side contained an office, a dormitory lined with wooden lockers, and a washroom. An air raid siren was installed on a four-foot tower on the building’s roof in January 1942, to sound the signal in case of air attack.
Reno’s needs, as well as its equipment, eventually outgrew the little fire house, which closed in the early 1990s, after a larger station was opened on Moana Lane. Sometime after that, the building was demolished.