SOMERVILLE, NJ - In keeping with Gov. Phil Murphy’s order allowing museums to reopen with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the Somerville Firemen’s Museum is again welcoming visitors.
Located in a restored 1888 firehouse at 23 North Doughty Ave., the museum features a look at 185 years of Somerville firefighting history.
The museum is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon, or by appointment. There is no admission charge, but donations are accepted Visitors must adhere to current virus prevention guidelines. Groups are limited to four people at a time who must wear masks and abide by social distancing. Hand sanitizers are available upon entering and leaving.
Tours are guided by Somerville volunteer firefighters and follow a well-marked path through the building. Exhibits and artifacts include a pre-Civil War hand pumper and a horse pulled steam engine as well as equipment, hoses, ladders, helmets, uniforms, photos and other related fire service memorabilia. Visitors also have the opportunity to operate a restored fire alarm box system that once summoned volunteers to their stations.
“We are more than happy to be back in operation,” said former Somerville fire chief and now museum director Rich O’Neill. “We feature a treasure trove of interesting things to see that attracts people from throughout the state and beyond,” he added, “A visit here is a walk through history that shows how the volunteer fire service and firefighting technology have evolved over time.”
The firehouse that now houses the museum was built by West End Hose Company in the late 19th century to provide fire protection to the then rural west end of Somerville. The building initially housed a hand-pulled hose reel, a horse-drawn hose wagon, and in 1916, the first motorized fire pumper in town. In 1970, West End Hose relocated to larger quarters on High Street.
The museum is run by the Somerville Fire Department Exempt Firemen’s Association. Over time it has been expanded and restored to its original design detail, including original brick and stained-glass.
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