History of  the Firehouse Museum

 

The West End Hose Company was organized in February 1888 in response to a citizen’s petition for better fire protection on the west side of town. The newly formed company was consolidated with the members, apparatus, building, and grounds of the old Union Engine Company No. 1 on Doughty Street. (present day North Doughty Avenue) Ground was broken in June of that year to replace the one-story wooden building with a two-story brick building, which would house the new four-wheeled hose carriage that was horse drawn. The building was built using the original bricks and stained glass window from the Cammen Castle (formerly Daniel Roberts home which is present day Boro Hall).

 

In October 1899, the West End Hose Company obtained a rubber-tired hose wagon with a drop harness, which was pulled by Mackey, the first horse in the Somerville Fire Department. After eight years of faithful service, the large black horse was retired and his place was taken by a gray horse, Harry, who refused to allow anything to pass him on his way to a fire. Both horses were also used as opportunities arose to haul baggage, freight, and household goods to supplement the municipal funds the West End Hose Company received.

 

The first Somerville Fire Department motor apparatus, an American LaFrance pumper was purchased by the Somerville Fire Department for the West End Hose Company. It served from 1916 -1930 (pictured below) This engine was then replaced by an American LaFrance pumper which served from 1930-1949. Then for a 3rd time, an American LaFrance Pumper was replaced by another American LaFrance pumper which served from 1949-1968.

 

This last replacement experienced mechanical problems so a reserve pumper, Somerville Engine #2, a 1942 Mack was used for the final years of service of the West End Hose Company North Doughty Avenue firehouse. Engine #2 has been preserved and is now Somerville Engine #5 which is a ceremonial apparatus and is still operational. This was the last Engine to operate out of this building which then closed in July of 1969.

 

Due to the ever-changing needs of the Fire Department, the building had become obsolete.

 

Prior to the closure in 1969, the West End Hose Company obtained the department’s first diesel powered fire engine, a 1250 gallon per minute Hahn pumper. This Engine was oversized for this building and was temporarily housed at the Engine Company #1 Fire House on Maple Street, which has since been demolished. In 1970 the Engine was relocated to the newly constructed High Street Fire house where it served for 19 more years.

 

The West End Hose Fire house officially became a Museum in 1970 through the efforts of the first Curator, Frazee Sutphen who served as curator from 1970-1983.

 

*Listed in the National/NJ Registry