2013 - New Downtown Fire Station (RXSQ)

Downtown fire station dedicated

Almost exactly forty years after a fire that destroyed the iconic Arlington / Tetley / Riverside hotel, the northwest corner of University and Lime is again occupied following the dedication of Riverside’s new Downtown Fire Station.

Built at a cost of $12 million as part of the Riverside Renaissance capital improvement program, the station’s opening was delayed by more than a year due to weather issues and the collapse of a Temecula-based general contractor.

The new, 3-story station includes the latest technological advances but also contains old-school touches, such as two, 3-story fire poles. Along with individual dorm rooms — better suited for today’s co-ed firefighters — the station also includes admin offices and a fire museum with displays of historical fire equipment. The centerpiece of the museum is a 1926 American La France pumper used by the Riverside Fire Department from 1926-1965.

The station replaces the 1957 mid-century Central Fire Station directly behind it on Mission Inn Avenue. Designed by Riverside architectural firm of Bolton C. Moise, the old “form follows function” styled station is listed on the California Register of Historical Resources as a fine example of Mid-Century Modern architecture. With its large, support-free engine bay and old-school fire poles and alarms still intact, we hope to see the old station reused (possibly as a brew house?).

For those who have long since forgotten (or never even knew), the new station sits on the former site of the Arlington / Tetley hotel — one of Riverside’s best examples of Victorian-era architecture from the 1890s. A fire severely damaged much of the hotel in September 1973 and it was torn down in December 1973. The lot eventually became a small parking lot for nearly four decades until the new fire station was built.

Also not to be forgotten is the fact the new station continues the 100-plus year tradition of having a fire station located in the immediate vicinity, which began with the 1905 station built just across the street on University Avenue (then Eighth Street) roughly between where Pizza Hut and Arts Bar & Grill are today. That station, which was torn down in 1963, remained in use until the 1957 station was built.


2008 – Site as a parking lot (RXSQ)

2013 – Public open house (RXSQ)

2013 – Some of the items on display in the fire museum (RXSQ)

Correction/Update: Date of fire that destroyed the Arlington / Tetley / Riverside hotel corrected to September 1973; demolition of fire-damaged building added as December 1973.

Sources: Riverside Press-Enterprise (PE-19730927, PE-19731205), City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library

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