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Landmark Doomed

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!

By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum

 

Millinocket Landmark Doomed read the headline of an article in the Bangor Daily News on May 1, 1949! Landmark Razed at Millinocket! The 47-year-old fire station on Penobscot Avenue was to be removed to make way for a new fire station being constructed on Aroostook Avenue.

The article states, “Millinocket’s old fire station and only court house is being razed by Ronald Leet, the highest bidder for the property, who paid $51.51 and has 60 days to remove the building and all debris. Plans are ready to build a new municipal building. Starting this summer on the lot situated on Penobscot avenue, the town’s main street.”

The article continues, “The older residents remember when the building was started 47 years ago. The first fire chief was Bill Heebner, who served one year; Fred Gates took his place and was chief until his death, when Allen Picard was elected to succeed him. When the building was new, the town had five alarm boxes and one mile of wire, and when it was razed, there were 37 alarm boxes and 12 miles of wire.”

The Pioneer Hose Company #1, all volunteer, was formed in May of 1901. By 1905, it was located on Penobscot Avenue at the building being razed in 1949. In early days, there was a hose wagon, a ladder wagon and two pairs of horses all housed at the Penobscot Avenue station. In winter the wagons were converted to sleds. A Gamewell fire alarm system was set up with alarm boxes set up throughout town. The museum has a large piece of this original Gamewell system on display.

Old post cards and photos at the museum show this original building in many views. About 2 ½ stories tall with a peaked roof, the station had 2 large barn-type doors. A tall tower on the side next to the bank housed the fire bell. In 1927, the bell tower burned causing the bell to fall to the ground. Later photos show the rebuilt shorter tower.

Horse teams for pulling the hose wagons and ladder wagons were still being used until 1930 even though the first motorized fire truck arrived in Millinocket in 1913, compliments of the Great Northern Paper Company.

Notable fires during the very early years of the Millinocket Fire Department include the Little Northern GNP Hotel (July 4, 1901, intersection Katahdin and Penobscot Avenues, firecrackers blamed), Brunswick House (Katahdin Avenue), and in 1906, the George W. Stearns & Company factory offices. In 1912, Woodman Hall (later renovated as the Millinocket Opera House) had a serious fire and in November 1921 Millinocket High School was completely destroyed. The Mountain View House fire partially destroyed the ornate hotel across from the park. The museum has one of the Red Comet Fire Extinguishers (small glass globe to thrown & break on flames). Its paper label states, “throw to splash on burning material.”



 

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