National Register of Historic Places in Nevada County

National Register #74000544: Nevada City Firehouse #2
14 December 2005
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National Register #74000544
Nevada City Firehouse #2
420 Broad Street
Nevada City

This simple Classic Revival brick structure exemplifies the early public utilitarian architecture found in the Mother Lode region. California's pioneers recreated the architectural styles and methods of construction with which they were familiar on the East Coast. It therefore represents a tangible link in the study of the diffusion of architectural styles. Vestiges of Greek Revival architecture can be seen in the cornice returns which are characteristic of California's public architecture prior to the completion of the Central Pacific Railroad in 1869, which allowed more rapid dissemination of the changing architectural styles of the East.

A fire department was only organized in Nevada City following a series of fires that devastated the city between 1851 and 1858. The women of Nevada City who took the first step toward the organization of a permanent fire department. On December 26, 1859, they gave a ball at the Court House which netted $923.50; and a week later, they gave a theatrical show that netted $149; all in all they raised $1,072.50 to be held in trust toward the formation of a fire department. Even after this magnificent gift, the men waited another six months before stirring themselves, and when they finally did they were to be hampered by jealousy and factionalism. Both the "Mainstreeters" and the "Broad- .streeters" wanted the headquarters of a fire department to be located ir their part of town. As a result, and since State law allowed one fire company to each 1,000 population, three rival companies were formed within ten days, each reluctant to aid the others in case of a fire.

The "Main Streeters" were the first who filed with the NEVADA HOSE COMPANY, No. 1, organized June 12, 1860, with 47 volunteers. The "Broadstreeters" were not far behind. The following day, they formed the EUREKA HOSE COMPANY, No. 2 with 34 volunteers ready for duty.

The third company, the PROTECTION HOOK & LADDER COMPANY, No. 1, was organized June 23, 1860, with 37 members. It did not last long. Its equipment was sold and the members joined the other companies. In organizing, the Main Street faction had beaten Broad by one day; but the Broad Streeters, thanks to the town women, had already over a thousand dollars in the treasury. This was immediately augmented by a subscription of another thousand, and with this advantage the Broad Street faction was able to even the score by building Nevada City's FIRST PERMANENT FIRE HOUSE. They bought a lot near the head of Broad Street, and with impressive ceremonies, laid the Cornerstone October 17, 1860. The building was completed, and they moved in their equipment on January 14, 1861. This attractive building is still in service today housing Fire Department apparatus.

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