Monday, August 8, 2016

Deco Delights: Former Eastwood Engine House 17 on South Midler Avenue

Syracuse, NY.Former Engine House 17, 401 S. Midler Ave. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
Deco Delights: Former Eastwood Engine House 17 on South Midler Avenue
by Samuel D. Gruber

Old (fire) engine houses are found all across the city of Syracuse. Most of these are too small to accommodate modern-day firefighting trucks and equipment and so have been sold off over the years to private owners, or have been converted to serve some other public function. These out-dated engine houses date from the late 19th century through the mid-20th century. 

Engine House 17 was built in 1929 on South Midler Avenue and Sunnycrest Rd., after the annexation of Eastwood by the City of Syracuse in 1926. The building replaced a substantial two-story gable front, wood frame structure built in 1907 that served as sort of village hall. The new building, just a block east of the Eastwood High School (1922), continued this purpose with police and fire services until 1988.  I have not yet identified the architect or builder. Today it houses the Frank DeFrancisco Eastwood Community Center run by PEACE, Inc.


Syracuse, NY.Former Engine House 17, 401 S. Midler Ave. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
Syracuse, NY.Former Engine House 17, 401 S. Midler Ave. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
Syracuse, NY.Former Engine House 17, 401 S. Midler Ave. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
Syracuse, NY.Former Engine House 17, 401 S. Midler Ave. Tower detail. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016

The Syracuse engine houses were built in many styles, including Renaissance, Flemish (Engine house 10), Tudor and Modern, but all have some basic components. The most distinctive of these features visible on the exterior are the ground floor garage bays for the engines and the attached tower which was used for drying hoses - these let anyone know what the building was once used for.

The attractive Engine House 17 with Art Deco detailing around the door frames and at the roof line served as dual public service center, housing both Engine Company 17 and Police Precinct 5, which was entered through a decorated doorway on the side.

Syracuse, NY.Former Engine House 17, 401 S. Midler Ave. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016
Syracuse, NY.Former Engine House 17, 401 S. Midler Ave. Entrance to Police Precinct 5 on right. Photo:  
 
For more on the history of Eastwood see Margaret McVicker, Did You Know?: A History and Memories of Eastwood, (Syracuse, 2010).

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