This beautiful brick firehouse was built by historic Seattle architects Bebb and Mendel in 1911, back in the days of horse-drawn fire engines. Ballard Fire Station No. 18 remained in continuous use for 63 years, longer than any other Seattle firehouse, reluctantly shutting its doors in 1976 when the station was retired by the city after being deemed surplus property.
The Germanic Revival-style fire station has been admirably restored and maintained over the years and now houses the Hi-Life, owned by successful Northwest restaurateur Peter Levy of Chow Foods. Chow Foods has been a force in the Seattle seasonal and locavore restaurant movement for some time now, boasting several wildly popular restaurants scattered around Seattle neighborhoods, all with ever-changing menus and an emphasis on locally-sourced food and wine.
With its grand brick facade and revamped interior, the Hi-Life gracefully manages to toe the line between Ballard’s historic, working-class roots and its recent evolution into a family-friendly yuppy haven. Ballard Fire Station No. 18 is perhaps one of the most beautiful adaptations to make use of the neighborhood’s existing dichotomy, and certainly amongst the most successful. Just look up at the building’s 100-year-old brick elevator shaft and rest your eyes on the glow of Hi-Life’s 20-foot neon sign. Eat. Drink.
Update as of November 2019: Hi-Life / Fire Station No. 18 has reopened under the new name Valentinetti.