Opened in 1925 in San Pedro, Los Angeles city Fire Station No. 53 has a storied past as home to the city’s first paramedic unit.
But since closing in 1995, the familiar red brick and beige building at 438 N. Mesa St. has been in search of a new purpose.
Most recently, it was included on city-owned property lists for consideration to be converted to housing or other services for the homeless. But the firehouse was removed when it was determined to be too small. The November 2016 passage of measures to help fund more housing for the homeless also relieved some of that pressure.
Last week, the firehouse was floated to be offered up for auction in May along with another property in Pacific Palisades.
But now the firehouse has been pulled off the market, said Branimir Kvartuc, communications director for Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino.
“Its value as a public benefit for the community far outweighs” what money the property would bring, Kvartuc said, estimating the site is worth about $300,000.
Instead, he said, the property is being considered as a possible location for one of the area’s local nonprofits, possibly the South Bay Center for Counseling or another interested group.
FIREHOUSE TO YOUTH THEATER
Fire Station 53 — built at a cost of $13,000 in 1924 on a parcel just under a quarter of an acre — originally reflected the Craftsman architectural design elements prominent in that era.
It was remodeled in the 1950s and 1970s.
When it closed in the 1990s, the station merged into the new fire station — No. 112 — on the waterfront at Harbor Boulevard near Fifth Street.
Neighbors at the time lamented the station’s loss to the residential neighborhood.
And firefighters, too, in a May 15, 1995, Daily Breeze article, said they would miss the home-spun surroundings at the corner of Mesa near Oliver Street.
“You won’t have a lawn to take care of anymore, you won’t have kids playing handball against the side of the building,” fire Capt. Richard W. Rozendal was quoted as saying just before the station closed.
The building enjoyed new life in 2000 when it was turned into an arts center for the Warner Kids program under the Los Angeles city’s Department of Cultural Affairs.
The firehouse was remodeled as the group’s headquarters and a 99-seat theater was added. It was renamed the Performing Arts Firehouse.
Most recently, the empty firehouse has been used for event storage for some nonprofit groups.