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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fire Station No. 2: Bagby & Capital, 1927.

Firemen from Houston Fire Station Number 2, 1927. (c) 2011, Houston Fire Museum.

Well folks, here is our first mystery. This panoramic photograph was donated recently to the museum and was a surprise found in the donor's attic. Taken in March of 1927, the men pictured here stood out in front of the bays of Houston Fire Station No. 2, located at Bagby and Capitol Streets,. in today's Theater District.

This station building (b) replaced the original building (a), located on at 319 Sampson at Preston (when that building became Station Number 17), was flooded and evacuated during the 1935 flood, and was itself replaced in 1965 by a building (c) located at West Dallas and Bailey. That building (c) closed in 1986 to create a new Station Number 4 building and the newest incarnation of Station Number 2 (d) opened in 1991 at 5880 Woodway Drive and Bering. All of these buildings, except the original Sampson and Preston Station still stands to this day and are (or aren't) being used in a variety of capacities.

The photo above can be zoomed in on, as evidenced by the link above, at our Flickr page. This is where your help is needed. We are trying to identify each of the individuals in the photo above. By doing this, we should be able to tell a much more compelling story about this arm of the fire department, the men involved, and the emergencies they responded to.

A bit of history to get you started and/or pique your interest. These men would have walked into or experience the following changes to the fire department the time this photograph was taken:
  • Had every fifth day off; from 1895 through 1919, firefighters had one day off every two weeks. 
  • Houston was home to 138,000 residents, more Americans now lived in urban rather than ruraral settings and several skyscrapers were constructed downtown
  • A second platoon; created in 1921, the crews alternated working ten-hour day and fourteen-hour night shifts.
  • All fire trucks had finished the process of becoming motorized by 1921; many reserve apparatus were still horse-drawn rigs, but were harnessed to motorized tractors. All remaining horses were retired in 1922 and were relocated in 1924 to the Hermann Park Zoo where a fireman from the Central Station at Preston and Caroline went out every day to feed and groom the horses for the rest of their days.
  • Building inspections instituted after 1924; numerous fires led to the need for both inspections and increased public education t lower fire losses.
  • Houston's first continuously-serving radio station, KPRC, went on the air in 1925.
  • The city's first fireboat, Port Houston, was put into service with 18 HFD members assigned to the boat docked at City Wharf No. 5 and designated Station No. 21.
  • Plans and construction were underway for the city's first fire training facility; located adjacently to Central Station, it would open in 1928.
If you recognize anyone in the photo, know additional information about this fire station and its fire fighters, or would like to flesh out the history of this fire station, please do not hesitate to respond to this blog post or contact us at the museum: hfmi at houstonfiremuseum dot org. If you think you know more information but need to see a much larger version of the photo, please contact us at 713-524-2526 and set up a viewing at the museum.

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