Volunteer Firemen’s Hall & Museum of Kingston
265 Fair Street
Kingston, NY 12402
Open: The hours vary by the season so please look to the website for the openings. School groups please call for an appointment.
Fee: Free but donations accepted
My review on TripAdvisor:
I was recently visiting Kingston, NY for an event and while walking around the downtown the doors of the Volunteer Firemen’s Hall & Museum of Kingston was open for visitors. Even if you are not a fire fighter it is such an interesting museum on the history of fire fighting and the role the Kingston Fire Department had in the formation of the City of Kingston.
The early horse drawn fire equipment
On the main floor is four pieces of equipment from various stages of the department. The engines are from the turn of the last century featuring horse drawn ladders and steam engines and then the latest equipment from the early teens and twenties from the automotive stage. Each piece of equipment has been carefully maintained and is in pristine shape. It is interesting to see how different each rig is at that stage of its history but how much has not really changed with the use of the equipment when fighting a fire.
One of the more interesting pieces in the collection is the beautifully detailed Parade piece from the late 1800’s (circa around 1890’s) which has gorgeous details and intricate craftsmanship work to it. This interesting piece of equipment was the pride of the department on parade day and is one of the few of its type in the country.
The Fire Department Parade Piece
Along the walls is all sorts of pictures of old fires, men who were once members of the department, ribbons and awards, old systems for calling for firemen from the horns that used to sound the alarms to the more modern telegraph equipment to the current paging systems.
The fire department equipment pieces
Upstairs you can visit the furnished headquarters of a firehouse circa 1890’s to 1920 with vintage furniture, decorations and composites of firemen long ago. There is even a mannequin of a fire fighter sliding down a pole that leads to the first floor. Here and there are more decorative equipment pieces, furnishings and awards.
The museum has a little something for everyone and if you are interesting in knowing more of the history of the fire service and want to hear the stories by members current and retired from the Kingston Fire Department, then the Volunteer Firemen’s Hall & Museum is the place to visit.
Old decorations from fire equipment at the Volunteer Firemen’s Hall & Museum
History of the Museum and Fire Fighting in Kingston, NY:
Ulster County has a remarkable over 350 year history of noble fire fighting. See it up-close and personal at the Volunteer Firemen’s Hall & Museum of Kingston.
When Kingston City Hall burned on June 4th, 1927, the third alarm was sounded from the building’s own bell tower before it crashed to the ground. Fire calls in Kingston today are answered through the 911 system with a three minute response time. Ever watched a TV show about firemen and their firehouse? The ‘squawk’ to a call is unmistakable.
Seven volunteer fire companies and the Exempt Association of Kingston recognized the importance of preserving and protecting firematic artifacts as well as establishing a meeting hall for volunteer fire organizations in Kingston and Ulster County. They were charged with finding a permanent home and signed a lease with the City of Kingston for Fair Street’s historic circa 1850 Wiltwyck Fire Station and the rest is history.
Walk through the large wooden doors to the home away from home of the 19th century firefighters.
The old Kingston, NY firehouse that now houses the museum
Disclaimer: this information was taken directly from the Volunteer Firemen’s Hall & Museum of Kingston pamphlet and I give them full credit for it. Please check out their website for more information.