From the Arizona Room is a weekly column examining the historic, reuse and infill structures in Downtown Phoenix. The inspiration for this column stems from the ever-expanding resources in Burton Barr Central Library’s Arizona Room (located on the second floor). For further information on this and other historic structures in the area, visit the Arizona Room during normal library hours.
541 W. Encanto Blvd. in Willo
This quaint, Mission-style building on 7th Avenue and Encanto Boulevard appears as just another fine residence in the Willo Historic District, but its nearly 70-year history shows its civic roll in the expansion of the city center in the World War II era boom of the region.
Built in 1942 and renovated several times, the building has been a single-family residence, a glorified storage unit, an office space and the City of Phoenix Fire Station #8. It was perhaps the city’s most unique-looking fire station, and rightly so. All the signs of Mission architecture are in plain sight: a hipped, clay tile roof with exposed rafters; stucco sheathing covering brick walls on a concrete foundation; wood casement windows; and an offset entry featuring a multiple wood panel door.
Take note of the two-leaf bi-fold garage door, still in excellent condition. It was the vision of original resident E.B. Smerdon, who lived in the home from its completion until 1947, when it was converted to Station #8.
An unlikely candidate for a fire station, yes, but today the building is a perfect representation of the need for rapid fire station expansion following World War II, as the “suburbs” (a centralized historic district today) sprouted quickly.
Source: City of Phoenix Historical/Architectural Survey of City-Owned Properties, August 1986
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