Charlotte is often knocked as a city without old buildings. Now, an uptown landmark has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Charlotte Fire Station No. 4, on West Fifth Street, is a squat, red brick building that was completed in 1926. Designed by Charlotte-based architect Charles Christian Hook, it served uptown until 1972.
“The West Fifth Street site was chosen for Fire Station No. 4 to better balance downtown‘s fire protection with close proximity to the city center and accessibility to the Fourth Ward neighborhood,” the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources said in a statement. “The building is significant due to its association with the city’s efforts to improve municipal services – specifically fire protection – in the midst of rapid population growth during the 1920s.”
Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson is planning a new restaurant in the building, called 4th Ward Fire House. He bought the property in 2015 for $1.6 million.
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Adding a property to the National Register of Historic Places doesn’t mean a private owner can’t alter the structure, but it does potentially make the structure available for incentives to assiste rehabilitation efforts.
The fire station’s history goes back to Charlotte’s booming growth in the 1920s. The city bought the lot in 1925 for $1,000 from Cornelia Tae and T.B. Whitted, and moved the house on the property to a new site. Government contracting and construction apparently used to move much faster: The city issued a building permit on December 7, 1925 and the station opened April 1, 1926.
After the fire station closed in 1972 (Its bays were too small for modern equipment), it was used for storage by the city sanitation department, offices and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fire Museum, located there until 2009. The building also factored into the FBI sting that netted former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon: In 2012 and 2013, before Johnson owned the building, an undercover agent solicited Cannon’s help navigating bureaucracy to get a business started there.