Westminster fire history museum to hold open house
Later on Saturday, July 21, 2012, the Westminster Volunteer Fire Department will host a crab feed.
By Kevin Dayhoff,
July 14, 2012 Labels: Carroll Co Community Events, Fire CC Depts 03 Westminster, Fire CC Depts 03 Westminster fundraiser, Fire CC Depts 03 Westminster history, Fire CC Depts 03 Westminster history museum, Food pit beef
On Sunday, July 15, 2012, the Westminster Volunteer Fire Department will swing open the doors to the past with an open house to the department’s critically acclaimed history of local firefighting museum, from 1 to 4 p.m.
Veteran firefighters and historians will be hand to answer questions and conduct tours of the museum which is attached to the southern-end of the firehouse on John Street in downtown Westminster.
Also available is pit beef and pit ham sandwiches for the event.
The museum at the Westminster firehouse offers the public a glimpse into the history of the fire department that spans two centuries. It was dedicated on October 24, 1998, when the fire department moved from the fire station located at 66 East Main Street, which had served the community for 102 years, to its current location on John Street.
The first mention of a fire department in the city of Westminster was in the year 1808 when the Maryland General Assembly “passed an act authorizing the raising of money by lottery to pay for a fire engine…”
The Act of the Maryland General Assembly named several “commissioners” who were charged with conducting the lottery. Even in those early days, they were also some of Westminster’s prominent community leaders.
Several were among the first elected officials of the town after the town’s first election in April 1819: Jacob Sherman, Daniel Zacharias, John Fisher (the first Burgess of Westminster) and Jacob Yingling.
It took another fifteen years before the fire company was formed. The name of the first fire company in Westminster, formed in 1823, was, the “Union Fire Company of the Town of Westminster.” The first firehouse was on Church Street.
Another little known tidbit of history is when the “firehouse” was moved from its beginning location on Church Street, to near the intersection of Court Street and Main Street, around 1834, it was used as a “drunk tank.”
When a town drunk was picked up, the local authorities would move the firefighting apparatus out of the “firehouse” and lock up the offender inside. Remember, although Westminster had first incorporated in 1818; at this time, it was still in Frederick County and there was no “county jail” in Westminster.
According to the Westminster Fire Department website, today the department’s museum looks “like an old station dating back to the late 1800’s. The station is octagonal in design and in the front above the window contains the original stained glass window from our previous station…
“Inside the museum, you will find our two antique motorized pieces, 2 hose carts, and assorted photos, documents, and other historical memorabilia. The room is designed to look like a station of the late 1800’s/early 1900’s…”
In addition to display cases containing many artifacts from two-hundred years of firefighting in Westminster; on display are several pieces of historic firefighting equipment, including items such as hand drawn hose carts that date back to approximately 1893… A 1924 American LaFrance city service ladder, and a 1933 American LaFrance type 75 pumper; and much more.
In addition to this Sunday’s open house, the Westminster Volunteer Fire Department will host a crab feed on Saturday, July 21 at the department’s John’s Street quarters attached to the firehouse at 28 John Street in Westminster.
The menu features steamed crabs, pit ham and beef, macaroni salad, coleslaw, baked beans, corn on the cob, Maryland crab soup, veggies, fruit dip, cheese, and desserts.
The tickets are priced at $40.00 per person and proceeds go to supporting the Westminster Volunteer Fire Department’s ambulance and firefighting services, and the museum.
For more information on the museum open house or the crab feed to support the fire department, call 410-848-1800 or go to the department website at westminstervfd.org.
Museum, firefighters, Westminster, history,
“Off Track Art” is an artists’ co-op and gallery located in the historic Liberty Building at 11 Liberty Street – next to the railroad tracks, off of the Sentinel parking lot at the corner of West Main St and MD 27-Liberty St – in historic downtown Westminster, Carroll County Maryland.
Open: Wed-Fri. Noon to 6 PM , Sat. 10 AM – 5 PM. http://offtrackart.blogspot.com/
For news and information on Off Track Art previous to December 15, 2011, you can go to http://kevindayhoffart.blogspot.com/search/label/Art%20Off%20Track%20Art