16. August 2019
A nine-room independent, boutique hotel— equipped with a restaurant, bar, cafe and retail shop— built within an original 1927 fire station in LA’s Arts District
Hospitality entrepreneur Dustin Lancaster (image below) first saw the two-level historic building – which was home to LA’s Engine Co. No. 17 from 1927-1980 but at the time being used for an installation – more than 10 years ago. He was instantly enamored, but it wasn’t until 2016 that the building’s owner reached out asking him to create a hotel there, “like Covell.” It felt like fate, and he couldn’t pass up the special building, so he partnered with developer-friend, Tyler Stonebreaker (Creative Space). In April 2019, the iconic fire station will open to the public as a project “very much about L.A. love,” according to Lancaster.
To lead the design of the hotel and restaurant, Sally Breer and the team at ETC.etera was the obvious choice. Sally and Dustin collaborated on Hotel Covell, her first hotel project, and subsequently worked together on Oriel, a French wine bar and bistro in Chinatown.
The Arts District Firehouse Hotel’s original façade bears a concrete nameplate reading ENGINE CO. NO. 17, a holdover from its years as a functional fire station (1927-1980). Though nearly 40 years have passed since the bi-level space has operated as such, the building retains its storied past and architecture.
Beneath the nameplate, two hulking red doors that used to let fire trucks in and out, now swing open to lets guests, and light, flood the ground floor space. Downstairs, two circles are visible in the ground where fire poles used to be, and a hose drying tower is a nostalgic reminder of the original use of the space. Upstairs, guest suites have been erected in a previously open space, but original factory windows, exposed wood- truss ceilings, wood floors, and niches that used to house Virgin Mary statues watching over the firefighters remain.
The ground floor lobby-reception area of the Firehouse Hotel is a space for the community. The coffee bar (pouring Counter Culture Coffee) serves as a grab-and-go option for the neighborhood, offering beverages as well as baked-on-premise pastries, breakfast and lunch options daily.
Also in the lobby, a selection of LA-centric goods has been curated (thanks to ETC.etera’s Jake Rodehuth-Harrison) for guests so they may discover just the thing to bring home to a significant other, a last-minute birthday or hostess gift, or a quirky made-in-LA souvenir. Many of the Firehouse’s in-room amenities (Clare V’s exclusive for the Firehouse seersucker bathrobe, catchall tray, leather-tassel key chains) and items seen throughout the hotel-restaurant space (Block Shop textiles, Hedley & Bennett work coat) are available for purchase as well.
Beyond the lobby, the Firehouse opens into the bar and then spills outside into the restaurant patio. The interior space is dominated by a long carrera marble-topped bar, with a custom pale green Simon St. James undulating pipe fixture running the entire length of the bar overhead. Doors modeled on the original windows let light flow into the bar, dancing on the mirrored back wall. Outside, a covered patio running the length of the building houses most of the restaurant’s seating. Beyond the patio guests will find the space originally used as the firefighter’s handball court, which has been converted into a private dining room, accommodating up to 30 people seated, or 40-50 for cocktail parties.
The Firehouse Hotel has nine completely unique guest rooms: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, White and Black. Each room door is painted its respective color, and rooms have leather keychain tassels to match, but the application of color beyond the hallway’s rainbow doors is a much more restrained one. Breer layers patterns, textures, custom fixtures, carefully appointed furniture (including vintage pieces and pieces from Breer’s own collection for ETC.etera) and artwork (from curator and dealer Jonathan Pessin) on top of original elements (soaring ceilings, industrial windows). The result is nine totally unique spaces with a retro-elegant aesthetic that seamlessly blend old and new.
In each bathroom, painted Clé Tiles in the room’s color have been hand-laid, creating a thread from one room to the next. Amenities include Le Labo toiletries, Parachute bedding and bath linens and Clare V. robes. Like Hotel Covell, the Firehouse Hotel welcomes extended stays, and as such all rooms are equipped with kitchenettes.
Three rooms are suites with separate living rooms and bedrooms (Green, Blue, White), while three other rooms can be combined into a single master suite (Violet, White, Red). *The Black Room is located on the ground floor.
Images: Aaron Haxton (9); Ren Fuller (1); Danielle Adams (1)
Arts District Firehouse Hotel, 710 S. Santa Fe Avenue, 90021 Los Angeles CA