Connecticut Firemen's Historical Society Museum
The Fire Museum, also known as the Cheney Fire Station is located at 230 Pine St., at the corner of Pine St. and Hartford Rd. It occupies a historic fire station, built in 1901 by volunteer firemen to serve the Cheney Silk Mill complex and the surrounding neighborhoods. Dave Smith, curator and a director of the Manchester Historical Society provides this information: "The South Manchester Fire District was organized in 1897 with Frank Cheney, Jr., as president. He continued as president for over 20 years. In 1901 the hose house (now the Fire Museum) was erected by Cheney Brothers and dedicated in July of 1901. In 1909 Cheney Brothers assumed the cost of constructing the bowling alley in the basement. In 1912 the Fire Company purchased a Combination Chemical Engine & Hose Wagon at a cost of $2,500, which was borrowed from Cheney Brothers."
The museum was established in 1979 and now includes many types of fire fighting apparatus, from early hand drawn hose reels to horse drawn equipment to a 1921 Ahrens Fox pumper. Other displays show early rope nets to catch jumpers from high rise buildings, leather water buckets used by volunteer bucket brigades, helmets and uniforms, a unique badge collection, and models of modern and antique fire trucks. There are still horseshoe marks on the floor from the time when the ladder and pumper equipment was pulled by horses.
The museum includes the 1911 Hartford Water Tower, one of only a very few still in existence. The Water Tower was originally horse drawn, but in 1914 the Hartford Fire Dept. motorized it by adding a gasoline-electric tractor in place of the horses. The mast on the Tower is 55 feet high and is spring raised. The Tower has been restored and is once again in operating condition.
The museum is open mid-April to mid-November. For additional information, call (860) 649-9436, or visit www.thefiremuseum.org .