Monday, December 13, 2010

Mentor Fire Museum - Old Station #1 Then and Now

Located in the heart of the original Mentor Village on Jackson Street, just north of Mentor Avenue is the Mentor Fire Museum.  Unlike its more famous Mentor museum kin, the Western Reserve Railroad Museum, Garfield Presidential site, or Museum of Speed, the Mentor Fire Museum ( Old Station #1 ) is a hidden gem of living history.

The first fire truck arrived in the village of Mentor in 1921.  Fire Station #1 was built on the corner of Jackson Street and Mentor Avenue in 1942.  It housed two engines and some other apparatus.  Originally manned by volunteers, the Mentor Village Fire Department experienced decades of continued growth.  The 1970's saw a rescue squad service added. 1984 witnessed an addition to the existing structure.  From the 53 runs in 1942 through the 3,975 runs that occurred in the year of its closing ( 1990 ), this corner of Mentor continued to serve and protect the residents of Mentor.  After a brief interlude as a department storage facility, the efforts of the Mentor Firefighters Historical Society ( established 2002 ) and the foresight of the Mentor City officials have transitioned the original site into a Fire Museum and future Mentor Safety Village ( established 2007 ).

The Museum welcomes visitors and has in excess of 900 children tour the museum annually.  Highlights of the museum include Phillip the Fire Truck and an interactive 911 dispatch center.  Phillip, the Fire Truck was born in 1986 in Appleton, Wisconsin.  Adopted by the Mentor Fire Department, truck number 1153 was the pride of the department until 1993 when retirement loomed.  A brief reprieve saw Phillip sub on an as needed basis.  Finally, the combined wishes of local firefighters and council members secured Phillip a permanent home on Jackson Street.  Phillip is currently under restoration and will become an interactive educational tool at the museum.  Future long range goals for the museum include a jail and Police Station.  Curator Don Zimmerman of the Firefighters Historical Society may be reached at 440-299-0202.

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