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Monte Vista Fire Station

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Fire Station Number 3
1936, Ernest Blumenthal; 1952 extension. 3201 Central Ave.NE.

Erected by the city with federal funding from the Works Progress Administration, the Monte Vista Fire Station was another element in the general expansion of municipal services that—along with water lines, sewage lines, paved streets, and sidewalks—subsidized the private development of suburbs on Albuquerque’s East Mesa. Besides providing fire protection to the adjacent Monte Vista and Campus View Additions, the station encouraged the construction of houses by reducing the rates for residential fire insurance by 43 percent.

The building was designed by Ernest Blumenthal, who became the city’s architect in 1935 after a peripatetic career between Albuquerque and his native Saint Louis. Its structure of hollow clay tile walls and reinforced concrete floors was organized programmatically into a central two-story block with a garage bay on the ground floor and living quarters above, between a three-story hose-drying tower at the southeast corner and a one-story office at the opposite southwest corner. Blumenthal adopted the hybrid Spanish-Pueblo style that John Gaw Meem was codifying in his contemporary buildings for the University of New Mexico. The tan stucco (imitating adobe), projecting vigas, stepped massing, and terrace ladders all evoke pueblos, while the facade is modeled after Spanish mission churches: between two buttress towers, one unfinished, the traditional entrance portal, choir loft window, and bell cote have been translated into their modern analogs of garage doors, multi-lite windows, and a raised parapet. The following year, Blumenthal used the same style for the Albuquerque Municipal Airport.

In 1952, the building was extended at the rear to house a larger ladder truck. The station was decommissioned in 1972 and sold by the city when it could no longer accommodate newer equipment. Remodeled as a restaurant, with a ground floor kitchen, the Monte Vista Fire Station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

References

Bergman, Edna Heatherington. “The Fate of Architectural Theory in Albuquerque, New Mexico: buildings of four decades, 1920-1960.” Master’s thesis, University of New Mexico, 1978.

Davis, Mary, “Fire Station Number 3,” Bernalillo County, New Mexico. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 1986. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Christopher C. Mead
Coordinator: 
Christopher C. Mead
Regina N. Emmer

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