On July 9, the Milford Museum will host an opening event for their newest exhibit, highlighting the history of the Carlisle Fire Company of Milford. The exhibit will feature an extensive collection of fire helmets, uniforms and gear as well as historical accounts of major fires that have shaped Milford over the centuries.
Originally know as the Milford Fire Company, the organization was renamed The Carlisle Fire Company on November 12, 1918 in honor of Paris T. Carlisle, IV, an active member of the Milford Fire Company who fought in World War I and never returned. Carlisle was killed in action on October 6, 1918 near the Meuse River in France. According to officials at the Carlisle Fire Company, eight members of the company fought in World War I and those who stayed home actively engaged in war relief work “making the Milford firemen the leading group during those years.”
The newly formed Carlisle Fire Company purchased the site of their former firehouse in 1922 on land that once was home to the Barto Shirt Factory, in operation from 1900 to 1921, before it burnt to the ground in a fire in 1921. The Carlisle Fire House was completed in 1925 and was occupied until moving to its present day location at 615 Northwest Front Street in 1978.Today, the Carlisle Fire Company has approximately 94 members and twelve pieces of equipment.
“Milford has been so affected by fires over much of its history,” stated Claudia Leister, Executive Director of the Milford Museum. “Records of early fire fighting in Milford have been lost through time but we do have detailed accounts of major fires from the 1800’s to date.”
According to Ms. Leister, the first account of a large fire in Milford was in February of 1885 when a fire started in Lowery’s livery stables behind the Milford Hotel on Walnut Street. Before modern firefighter technology was available, only buckets and force pumps were used by 500 men who took part in fighting the fire. Through further research Leister also uncovered a fire that occurred during the winter of 1891 behind the Central Hotel on NW Front Street. A newspaper accounted that “It appears it was only an act of Providence coupled with the tireless efforts of the 300 men who fought the flames that saved the town.” A year later, Milford citizens met to plan for the organization of a fire company and a hand-drawn hook and ladder truck was purchased. After this scare, the town council also voted to install a public water system with its main water well located between Pearl Alley and South Washington Street.
“Downtown Milford has lost a lot to fire and the facade itself has changed so much as it had to be rebuilt several times,” commented Leister.
Other notable Milford fires include the 1952 fire of the home of Ruby and Maria Vale, located on the property which Milford’s City Hall now stands. Historical accounts state that three days after Christmas when the fire broke out, the weather was so cold that water froze in the hoses as the three story mansion was completely destroyed. Most recently, Milford residents remember the fire that took place the day after Christmas in 2012 that destroyed the three story building in the downtown district that housed Warren Furniture. The burnt out building still stands on South Walnut Street waiting for a restoration.
The Carlisle Fire Company exhibit at the Milford Museum hopes to display the bravery of the men that served the organization since its earliest beginnings and the transformation of the fire company over its 200 year service to the Milford community. The new exhibit will be open to the public on July 9 with the opening event beginning that day at 5pm. For more information about the Carlisle Fire Company exhibit or the Milford Museum visit http://www.milforddemuseum.org or call Claudia Leister, Director of the Milford Museum, at 302-424-1080.