The Capen Hose Co. No. 4 and Fire Museum’s interpretive panel

By on November 5, 2018
The Capen Hose Co. No. 4 and Fire Museum interpretive panel includes the photos of D. Scott “Scotty” Warthman (1943 to 2003) and George “Chubby” Churchill (1907 to 1994), named “two spirits of the company.” Buildings shown include, left, the first building from 1893 to 1905; right is the current building erected in 1905. The fire truck on left is a restored 1930 Seagrave pumper as seen in a 1984 photo. The other equipment is the first gas powered apparatus purchased by Capen Hose Co. in 1914. Photo by Dianne Hickerson

The Capen Hose Co. No. 4 and Fire Museum interpretive panel includes the photos of D. Scott “Scotty” Warthman (1943 to 2003) and George “Chubby” Churchill (1907 to 1994), named “two spirits of the company.” Buildings shown include, left, the first building from 1893 to 1905; right is the current building erected in 1905. The fire truck on left is a restored 1930 Seagrave pumper as seen in a 1984 photo. The other equipment is the first gas powered apparatus purchased by Capen Hose Co. in 1914. Photo by Dianne Hickerson

One more sign
of a history-minded
Brockport Community

Last summer a homemade lawn sign appeared on the Main Street side of the Capen Hose Co. No. 4 and Fire Museum. It announced, “OPEN HOUSE, Sunday 1-4.” My wife, Dianne, and I responded and had a tour of the fascinating firefighting collection kept in pristine condition by the museum’s custodians, headed by Norm Knapp. A feature article in this paper August 12 shared the tour with readers

The occasional open houses have ended for the season, but now a permanent sign appears in the same place, giving the history of Capen Hose Co. No. 4 and Fire Museum with photos of past leaders and antique firefighting equipment. It’s not just a sign, but an “interpretive panel” provided by the Brockport Community Museum. It is the tenth such panel located around the wider Brockport community depicting the particular aspect of local history that is the subject of the panel. The related organization or institution pays for the panel.

A community undertaking

The placement of the Capen Hose Fire Museum panel was a community endeavor, Knapp said, with various individuals showing generosity, creativity and hard work. Members and former members of the Capen Hose Museum contributed $852 for the panel itself. By providing the unique fire hydrant mounting, creative local citizens saved about $350, the cost of the standard post. Typically, a panel with mounting costs approximately $1,200.

The historic fire hydrant used for the mounting was contributed by Dave Moore, foreman with the Brockport DPW. It had been passed on to him by the late Jerry Lemcke, who was with the Town of Hamlin Highway Department and former Fire Chief. Knapp explains that the historic hydrant dates back to the era when the water plant for Brockport was built on Lake Ontario.

John Rombaut made the mounting bracket to attach the panel to the fire hydrant. He is a current member of the Brockport Fire Department and served as Fire Chief and Association President. The concrete base was the work of Tim Rombaut, John’s son, and Dave Moore. The two also did the “stamping” of the colored concrete walk, creating a brick effect (see photo). John Rombaut and Jim Downs, his neighbor in Clarkson, laid the landscape blocks creating a curved cut-away area with retaining wall. The total display is a result of committed and coordinated community volunteers supporting the Capen Hose Museum.

“Labor of Love” Recording, preserving and reporting local history

The interpretive panels are the work of the Brockport Community Museum Exterior Display Committee chaired by Allan Berry, working with photographer Richard Black, designer Norm Frisch, Bill Andrews and others. “The Brockport Community Museum is proud of its work which includes a very active and constantly expanding web site,” Allan Berry said. He added, “Our activity includes exterior display work, including interpretive panels and historic markers, interior display work, which includes nine exhibit cases around the community and occasional displays at the Seymour Library and other locations around the community.”

Berry continued, “Our effort to bring local history to the attention of our residents and visitors is a labor of love. However, in the Brockport community there is a great deal of support for recording and preserving local history.” He names the following organizations: Emily L. Knapp Museum of the Village of Brockport, the Sweden Farmers Museum, the Western New York Historical Society’s Morgan Manning House, the Capen Hose Company No. 4 and Fire Museum, the Clarkson Academy, the Navy Club, and Hamlin’s North Star History Center. Berry also praises The College at Brockport’s Rose Archives “as a tremendous resource, as is College Archivist, Charlie Cowling,” citing the archives and Cowling as “one more example of the extraordinary College-community cooperation.”

The historic fire hydrant as a mounting for the Capen Hose Co. No. 4 and Fire Museum interpretive panel was the unique idea of local citizens who also donated the hydrant, created the plate to attach the panel, made a concrete base, stamped the brick design in the concrete sidewalk, and laid landscape blocks for a curved retaining wall. The interpretive panel was paid for by current and past members of the Capen Hose Co. No. 4 and Fire Museum. The contributed custom mounting saved several hundred dollars over the standard post. Photo by Dianne Hickerson

The historic fire hydrant as a mounting for the Capen Hose Co. No. 4 and Fire Museum interpretive panel was the unique idea of local citizens who also donated the hydrant, created the plate to attach the panel, made a concrete base, stamped the brick design in the concrete sidewalk, and laid landscape blocks for a curved retaining wall. The interpretive panel was paid for by current and past members of the Capen Hose Co. No. 4 and Fire Museum. The contributed custom mounting saved several hundred dollars over the standard post. Photo by Dianne Hickerson

Suburban News and Hamlin-Clarkson Herald over many years has provided extensive feature articles on all the historical organizations Berry mentions with the exception of the last two.  As a free-lance writer contributing many such articles, I appreciate this free community newspaper which chronicles local history that is preserved as well as history in the making which is today’s news.  One example is the August 12, 2018 feature referred to at the beginning: “Capen Hose Co. 4 Fire Museum – A hidden treasure welcoming the public” at web site www.westsidenewsny.com/author/doug-hickerson. Many other articles on local history have appeared, such as the October 28 front-page feature “Parma’s first settlers – 1796” by the Hilton-Parma Historian, David Crumb.

A dedication of the interpretive panel next spring

In the spring of 2019, there will be a celebration of 130th anniversary of the The Capen Hose Co. No. 4 and Fire Museum. The interpretive panel will be dedicated as part of the festivities. Still in planning stages, the event will probably take place in April or May, Norm Knapp estimated.

Arrange a tour of Capen Hose No. 4 and Fire Museum

Those walking or biking might stop to read the interpretive panel.  Motorists who routinely drive by, oblivious to this historical spot, may turn into the parking lot and take a few minutes to appreciate this Brockport treasure as it is presented on the panel.  Reading the panel may draw interest about what is in the museum. Private tours can be arranged by calling 585-637-5086 and asking for Don Ennis, one of the museum’s very active custodians.

For more information on the Brockport Community Museum, visit www.brockportcommunitymuseum.org.

The Capen Hose Co. No. 4 and Fire Museum interpretive panel includes the photos of D. Scott “Scotty” Warthman (1943 to 2003) and George “Chubby” Churchill (1907 to 1994), named “two spirits of the company.” Buildings shown include, left, the first building from 1893 to 1905; right is the current building erected in 1905. The fire truck on left is a restored 1930 Seagrave pumper as seen in a 1984 photo. The other equipment is the first gas powered apparatus purchased by Capen Hose Co. in 1914. Photo by Dianne Hickerson

The Capen Hose Co. No. 4 and Fire Museum interpretive panel includes the photos of D. Scott “Scotty” Warthman (1943 to 2003) and George “Chubby” Churchill (1907 to 1994), named “two spirits of the company.” Buildings shown include, left, the first building from 1893 to 1905; right is the current building erected in 1905. The fire truck on left is a restored 1930 Seagrave pumper as seen in a 1984 photo. The other equipment is the first gas powered apparatus purchased by Capen Hose Co. in 1914. Photo by Dianne Hickerson

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