QR Code Tour #5 - First Fire House

In 1857 Milford was rapidly growing and the town decided more adequate firefighting equipment as well as a new fire house was needed. Until that time all the equipment including a hand-drawn pumper had been stored in a little shed behind Eagle Hall when this building sat on the north side of the common.   A two story building was built in 1857 on the west side of the oval that included a 62 foot tower to hang the hoses to dry. A foghorn was installed to call the firemen to the station and was activated by two men turning a wheel. After the completion of the new firehouse, the first floor housed the engines and the second floor was the meeting room. A foghorn was used to call the firemen and was activated by two men turning a wheel. In 1858 the town voted to pay the firemen a small sum and by 1875 this sum was increased to $10.00

By 1860 equipment owned by the department was worth $4,533.13. The department owned the Torrent and Souhegan No. 2 engines along with ample hose and carriage facilities. It also owned two fire extinguishers. The Neptune No. 3 engine was purchased for $200 in 1875 from the Waltham, Massachusetts fire department. This Hunneman, dated 1820, had been retired by them in 1871 and then sold to Milford. After being retired by Milford, it was rescued from a scrap heap in Milford during WWI.   Engines were either pulled by the firemen or if time allowed were horse-drawn.   Even if a horse was hitched to a fire engine, the equipment was still slow moving.    Water was procured from nearby ponds or brooks or from wherever it could be found.   Uniforms consisted of a pair of blue pants with a red stripe. This stripe had to be removed for certain occasions.   If a fireman did not answer the first roll call at a meeting he was fined 12 /12 cents. If he missed a fire he was fined $1 but this proved to be too stiff a fine and was soon reduced to 50 cents.

By 1875 the department consisted of a 16 foot ladder, a 17 foot ladder, a spliced 55 foot ladder, 500 feet of rubber-lined hose, 100 feet of jacket hose, 200 feet of linen hose and 500 feet of unreliable hose. It was slow going for this equipment to get to a fire as the firemen had to drag it themselves. With the 1892 addition to the town hall annex at the east end of the basement, space was made for a new fire department

The old fire house was rented by the town to various business until 1898 when it was sold to the Robert Howison heirs who owned the hotel next door. They rented the building for 18 years. There were two fires in the building – a minor one in 1909 and a major fire in 1912 which burned down the hose tower. The Howison heirs repaired the building and sold it to William Jacques in 1915 who added a room at the rear of the first floor. Along with his brother Charles they had run a show repair business since 1900. William took over the south side of the building for his shoe shop and rented the north half. The third floor was added in 1923.

After William died in 1942, his son Leon carried on the shoe business and   in 1950 took over the whole downstairs. He finally retired in 1966 but ran the store un 1972.

There have been several other businesses in the block since that time including a card shop, real estate etc.

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