Driving along Sunnyside Avenue in Old Ottawa South, one could easily miss this beautiful gabled and buttressed structure nestled on the corner of Fairbairn Street across from Saint Margaret Mary Parish. This stucco, brick and stone bungalow once had a red tiled roof and depending on which resource you consult, has been described as either being of a Spanish revival style or Spanish-Colonial revival style or California style.
The building was designed by Werner Ernst Noffke (1878-1964) and at the time of construction in 1920 cost $38,000 to build. It officially opened for operation on the evening of September 28, 1921 and at this time was considered to be the finest fire station in the city and unlike any other fire station in Canada. Known as “Graham Fire Station” after a prominent and popular Ottawa Fire Chief (John Graham) this station lacked the traditional tower used to hang and dry hoses and instead had a room in the basement with racks that dried the hoses with steam heat from pipes, saving on labour.
During the 1970’s the building served as the home of the Great Canadian Theatre Company and since 1977 has been used as the Old Ottawa South Community Centre. A $3.4 million renovation and expansion to the west side of building was completed in the summer of 2010 by architect Anthony Leaning of CSV Architects and subsequently won an Ottawa Architectural Conservation Award for Excellence in 2011 and the Cornerstone Award for Building Heritage in 2013.
I think it’s a pretty distinctive example as far as fire stations of this time period go and am happy it still remains in the city and is being used for a public purpose. I especially like the scrolled ornamental design that appears in between the fire doors and the overall look of the building with its stone, brick and stucco details.
Location Address: 260 Sunnyside Ave, Ottawa, ON, K1S 0R7
More? The Ottawa Journal (The Ottawa Evening Journal) from September 29, 1921 has a great write-up about some other interesting details of the structure on page 5, if your interested. Also, the Ottawa Public Library also has a number of books that reference the architect, Werner Ernst Noffke.