07/10/11 318 W, 1 I - + 8 - 4 Raleigh Fire Department Historical Exhibit, 1990s

Here's another picture donated by Lt. Upchurch. This was a historical exhibit of the Raleigh Fire Department displayed during the 1990s. The location was a house on near St. Mary's Street, one of the buildings on the site of the old Methodist Orphanage.1 The exhibit was created and maintained by department historian and retired Captain B. T. Fowler (1951-1986). And that's about the extent of that known information. Click to enlarge, to see a super-sized version:

Let's see what we can identify:

Photos, left wall:

Photos, back wall:

Photos, right wall:

1There are two buildings remaining there, and it's one of them. The building is on Clay Street, off St. Mary's, across from Broughton High School. Lee Wilson remembers the exhibit as small, one or two rooms. Thanks for the recollections, Lee!

Jon, our collection of items is not specifically the same as these items. We have a similar set of vintage turnout gear, and similar old photos, nozzles, and hand tools.
Legeros - 07/16/11 - 09:32

As for the building, it is likely the Borden Building at Fletcher Park, one of two remaining buildings on the former campus of the Methodist Home for Children. That was one of a couple orphanages that was present in the Capital City. The Borden Building was built in 1900, and was the home for the Superintendent of the orphanage. It was later used to house children.

The city bought the building in 1982. It was extensively renovated in 1992. It also served as the first location for the Raleigh City Museum, which opened its first exhibit in 1993. The museum used a couple rooms in the Borden Building for their first location, recalls Borden Building staff. After 1995, they moved into the historic Briggs Hardware Building, which is the city’s only 19th Century commercial building that has survived essentially unchanged.

The News & Observer on June 11, 1993, notes the museum’s first exhibit was How Fire Has Changed the Face of Raleigh. The information and display items for the museum was provided by Fowler— noted above as a retired Captain and the department’s then-historian— and other retired members. {He’s also the father of later Fire Chief Earl Fowler.)

The museum chose firefighter as the subject of its first exhibit “partly because of the large amount of information [that] was available in Fowler’s 95-page history of the fire department.” You can read that history here: http://raleighfirehistory.org/content/19..

The exhibit contained “old photographs, newspaper stories and artifacts, such as early helmets, clothing and firefighting tools” as well as a “remnant of the marble statu of George Washington that was destroyed when the State House burned.”

Thus this picture is only one part of that exhibit. Wonder what the whole thing looked like!

The exhibit also traced the evolution of firefighting equipment and fire protection measures. Three antique fire engines, including the 1905 steam engine (then-believed to be built in 1887), were included. The paper also notes that four modern engines were displayed. That would have been quite a fleet, if displayed over time!

Work to create a Raleigh City Museum started 2 1/2 years prior, noted the story. The exhibit was open on Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and was planned to be open for the remainder of that year.
Legeros - 07/16/11 - 09:36

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