There are big doings underway in the building tucked behind our fire station on Robinson Road. I had a tour recently of the Edgartown Fire Museum, which I found both fascinating and exciting - the museum has the potential of becoming a vibrant center of learning and activity for our town - and I even learned a few things about the history of Edgartown's 175 year-old fire department.
The museum, at this time very much a work in progress, was begun in 1997, initially for the purpose of housing the department's two retired trucks. Longtime Edgartown fireman Dick Kelly, who with his son Andy was my tour guide says, "When I retired from the A&P, I saw all the stuff around the station, and I thought, 'why not put this stuff out?'" and thus was born the idea for the expanded museum.
This past year, a large climate-controlled room was added to the original garage, built for the main purpose of housing the celebrated and much-loved 155 year-old "button tub" pumper which will be on loan from the former Dukes County Historical Society. The walls here will eventually be filled with photographs, as well as fire department and town history. The room will also feature a childrens' interactive, hands-on exhibit.
The finishing touch for the museum will be a large picnic area with tables and a little patio with benches dedicated to late department stalwarts Bob Bassett and Albert K. Sylvia.
The target date for the official opening of the museum is September 2011, "If we get the money we need, and I think we will," says Dick.
And speaking of money, this 501(c)(3) non-profit project is supported entirely by donations. If you are so inclined, the address to which you may send a donation is:
Edgartown Firemen's Association (with a note in the memo directing the funds to the museum)
PO Box 737
Edgartown, MA 02539
One of my tour guides, Richard Kelly, flanked by Hose Co. No. 1 (left), and Engine 1.
Hose Co. No. 1 is a 1927 Mack that went into service in Edgartown in 1928 and was retired in 1952. It's currently undergoing a major overhaul on the engine and the brakes, as well as the replacement of a lot of old parts - difficult to find, and expensive, reportedly. The hope is that the work will be completed in time for the Fourth of July parade.
Engine 1. This 1952 Mack was retired from duty in 1985. A beauty.
A small sampling of fire department paraphernalia and history that will be on display in the museum. This bucket dates back to the days - pre-fire department - when Edgartown residents were required by law to hang a bucket next to their front doors in case of fire (surely, you've heard of a bucket brigade).
An old hose nozzle.
This room was built with the "button tub" in mind, will be climate controlled, and features a Vermont oak floor. Says Dick, "We wanted to do this right, or not at all." The room will also be home to photos, newspaper articles, fire department history, town history, a hands-on children's learning center, and a sales area for tee-shirts, the sales of which support the annual Fourth of July fireworks display.
This bell that sits in front of the station on Pease's Point Way will eventually be brought around back to the museum.
Edgartown Fire Department's beloved "button tub" pumper, a star of the Fourth of July parade. (file photos, July 2010)
Kara Shemeth in the fore.
A mighty spray fills Main Street, generated by the hands of the button pumper team. This demonstration of strength, timing, precision, and team-work is always received with loud cheers of approval and applause from the crowd.