Fire Station #19
Address: 2001 University Avenue S.E.
Neighborhood: Prospect Park
Construction Date: 1893
Architect: Unknown Minneapolis Building Inspector
Architectural Style: Utilitarian
Historic Use: Public - Fire Station
Current Use: Commercial - Offices
Date of Local Designation: 1982
Date of National Register Designation: N/A
Area(s) of Significance: Social History
Period of Significance: 1893-1906
Historic Profile: During the 1880s, Minneapolis experienced tremendous industrial growth. The city emerged from the decade as the leading milling, warehousing, and railroading center of the Upper Midwest. Although commercial expansion brought the city increased prosperity, it also quickly antiquated municipal public services, especially in the realm of fire protection. Residents and manufacturers living along the East Bank of the Mississippi River repeatedly requested a new station, especially after the devastating fire destroyed the University of Minnesota’s Old Main in 1892. A fire station constructed at the corner of Oak Street and University Avenue employed a typical utilitarian style while incorporating many design elements found in more elegant structures. A bell tower originally located on the southwest corner was removed several years after construction; however, the remainder of the exterior is essentially unchanged. One of the last Minneapolis firehouses to become fully motorized, Fire Station #19 used horse-drawn equipment as late as 1922. While the station is significant because of its contributions to fire protection, it is also famous as the birthplace of a major variant of American softball known as "kittenball." The inventor and organizer of kittenball was Louis Rober, a lieutenant at Fire Station #19 from 1896 to 1906. During this period, Rober adapted the rules of baseball to create a sport requiring less space, time, and equipment than the traditional ball game. Fire Station #19 operated until 1983 and since has been converted into offices.
1985, courtesy of The Minnesota Historical Society
2006, Minneapolis CPED
"National Register of Historic Places – Nomination Form," July 1976.
Updated: July 2010
Last updated Nov. 21, 2011