Historic La Crosse Fire Stations

Posted by Scott on April 27, 2021

(written by Scott Brouwer, Archives staff)

Organized fire-fighting in La Crosse is almost as old as the city itself.  Prior to and shortly after the city of La Crosse was officially established in 1856, bucket brigades, in which any available citizens would form lines passing full buckets from a water source towards the fire and empty buckets back, were the primary mode of suppressing fires.  The first volunteer fire company was formed in 1857 after a devasting fire left several blocks of Front Street in ruins.  "The Pioneer Engine Company #1" was formed with 60 members and city-appropriated funds for a fire engine and the necessary equipment to operate the engine.  

Throughout the next few decades, several volunteer companies were formed and disbanded.  How much or how little cooperation existed between the companies is relatively unknown, but they were geographically distributed around the developing city. 

The first formal fire station built for the Pioneer Engine Company was completed in 1868 in conjunction with City Hall at 413 Main Street.  According to La Crosse Fire Rescue: Legends and Legacies, a history produced in 1995 by the La Crosse Fire Department, hoses were hung in the steeple to dry after a fire.



The Rescue Hose Company, formed in 1869 and disbanded in 1891, worked out of a station at 829 6th Street S. (completed in 1872) that would eventually be designated La Crosse Fire Station #3.




Another of the volunteer companies of this time was the Washington Engine Company.  They worked out of a station on at 510 St. Cloud Street (completed in 1884) that would eventually be designated La Crosse Fire Station #2.





The modern La Crosse Fire Department was established in 1896.  It was initially divided into five stations, repurposing stations built for volunteer companies.  

Central Station, or La Crosse Fire Station #1 (completed in 1886), was in the heart of downtown at 414 State Street.


Colorized image, ca. 1900s.  The Stoddard Hotel on the left side of the image was completed in 1904.


Fire Station #1 on left; fire fighters testing equipment on Stoddard Hotel, 1908.

La Crosse Fire Station #4 (completed in 1892) was on the north side on the corner of Gillette and Berlin (now Liberty) Streets; this is the same spot as the current Fire Station #4.  


La Crosse Fire Station #5 (completed in 1895) was located at 1220 Denton Street, and the building still stands to this day; much of its recent history has been spent as the Southside Senior Citizen Center.



Photo courtesy of Google Street View

There was another La Crosse Fire Station #3 building built in 1906 on the same site as the one built in 1872 (829 6th Street S.).  This building served the fire department until 1967 when current Fire Station #3 was built on Losey Blvd to extend fire service to the growing eastern part of the city.  This building still stands and has since been remodeled into apartments.



All current Fire Stations can be considered 2nd generation La Crosse Fire Department buildings, having been built between 1940 and 1967.    
  • La Crosse Fire Station #1 (1967) - 726 5th Avenue South
  • La Crosse Fire Station #2 (1956) - 626 Monitor Street
  • La Crosse Fire Station #3 (1967) - 1710 Losey Boulevard South
  • La Crosse Fire Station #4 (1940) - 906 Gillette Street 


Fire Station #1, 726 5th Ave. S., constructed in 1967


Fire Station #2, 626 Monitor St., constructed in 1956


Fire Station #3, 1710 Losey Blvd. S., constructed in 1967


Fire Station #4, 906 Gillette St., constructed in 1940

At the time of this writing in 2021, the La Crosse Fire Department is on the verge of constructing its first new buildings in over 50 years, with plans for new Fire Stations #2 and #4 in development.  A remodel of Fire Station #1 and adding a new 5th station on the far south side are in the works as well.

Related Materials:

Common Council resolutions relating to fire prevention

Rescue Hose Company No. 2 Constitution and Bylaws

La Crosse Fire Rescue: Legends and Legacies (1995) - La Crosse Fire Department

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