Ladder Company 19 was created on April 25, 1905. It was located at 715 East 4th Street, where it had previously been Combination Wagon 2.
The firehouse was built in 1857 - and along with its side yard for the horses - was home to Hand Hose Company 14 (1857-1860). In 1860 the resident company became Engine Company 2 and remained there until 1882. In 1882, it was again re-designated as Hose Company 12 and would remain until it was disbanded in 1893. It then became Combination Wagon 2 - and would remain for 12 years under that designation - until 1905 when it was renamed Ladder Company 19. The firehouse still stands today and is currently the Fitzgerald Post.
On May 2, 1932, Ladder 19 moved to its new home at 700 East Fourth Street - and still resides there today. It is also the home to Engine Company 2. It was built on the corner of K Street and East 4th Street, which had previously been the site of a barn owned and occupied by the Boston Elevated Street Railway. The firehouse is one of four Boston Firehouses built at this time of similiar designs. It is a 3 story building, with the main floor designated for the appartus bays and patrol desk. The second floor has the company offices and quarters for the one officer and four firefighters. The third floor is designated for the living area, including the kitchen, locker room and weight room.
As with all fire departments, the dangerous work comes with tragedy - and Ladder 19 is no exception. On December 8, 1927, Lt. James Gavagan, while responding to Box 7433, was killed in the line of duty. While fighting a fire at 675 East 4th Street - a police station at the time - Lt. Gavagan breathed nitric acid fumes resulting from the photographic section of the police station being involved in the fire.
The second death involves another aspect of Ladder 19 history: the famous (cursed?) White Elephant. The White Elephant was a white 1941 American La France "500 Series" 100' Aerial Ladder truck. There are several theories as to why the Boston Fire Department took delivery of a white apparatus (most widely believed is that it was originally intended for the Denver Fire Department - that used all white apparatus.) Nevertheless, Ladder Company 8 in Fort Hill Square was assigned the truck on - of all days - September 11th, 1941. The truck was the first metal Aerial Ladder truck to be used in Boston and because of it's size and enclosed cab, was criticized by the firefighters assigned to it. Further frustration was heard when the aerial ladder jammed while on a drill and had to be refitted. A little over a year after it's arrival in Boston, on November 15, 1942, the "White Elephant" was involved in a f amous fire in Maverick Square, East Boston, where 6 firefighters were killed and the "White Elephant" was nearly destroyed in the building collapse. The death of these firefighters is often overshadowed by the historical Cocoanut Grove Hotel fire - which occured 2 weeks later - where 492 people were killed.
The "White Elephant" was taken out of service and completely rebuilt by American La France. At this time, it was painted red and assigned to Ladder Company 19. Even though it was painted red, it still retained it's nickname and was still believe by some to be cursed. A member of Engine Company 2 once related that he was told not to bring a line up over the aerial ladder as the fire building would collapse. It is said that members of Ladder 19 were not happy about having the "White Elephant." The problems continued with the apparatus, including several untimely "jack-knifing" incidents and problems with the brakes.
American La France sent a representative to inspect the brakes in an attempt to resolve the issue. On
December 3, 1947, while conducting the brake inspection near the Strandway, the truck overturned, killing Firefighter Joseph B. Sullivan - the second and last member of Ladder Company 19 to die in the Line of Duty. Firefighter Arthur Spacone was the tillerman that day and was thrown 30 feet from the wreckage, but survived. Many believed that the curse ended with the destruction of the "White Elephant." More than 12 years later on Christmas Eve, while then assigned to Engine Company 2, Firefighter Spacone was killed in the Line of Duty.