Edgartown Fire Museum
By Matt Romeo
The Edgartown Fire Museum is a must-see for anyone visiting Edgartown. The was built and is maintained by the Edgartown Fireman’s Association. The museum is a home to over 175 years of fireman memorabilia and stories from the Edgartown area.
The Edgartown Fire Museum is located close to the Edgartown Historic District. Its address is 68 Pease’s Point Way S, Edgartown, MA. The museum is open May 15th through October 15th from 9 am to 5 pm. If it’s offseason, special requests may be made to open the museum on the weekends. Admission is free, but you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or hat.
The Original Building
The original building that was built in 1994 with the intention of housing the historic 1927 and 1952 Mack fire trucks that are still on display today. The transition to today’s museum happened slowly over time as the retired Senior Captain Richard Kelly began collecting pieces to put on display.
In 2011 the museum was expanded to house its crown jewel, the 1855 button tub, which was previously housed at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. The expansion was completed almost completely by volunteers.
In addition to allowing space for the hand tub, the expansion allowed for additional space for displays. Currently on display are historical fire extinguishers, badges, alarm boxes, tools, and clothing. There is also an entire area dedicated to educating children about fire safety.
The Button Tub
The highlight of the Edgartown Fire Museum is the 1855 button tub for which the museum expansion was built. A button tub, or sometimes known as a hand tub, was a fire-fighting apparatus that was typically hand shaped and consisted of a reservoir of water that was pumped out using a pump with brakes. This particular hand tub is the oldest working firefighting apparatus on Martha’s Vineyard.
Edgartown Firemen’s Association
The Edgartown Fire Museum is run by the Edgartown Firemen’s Association. The organization was founded in 1952 and consists of active and retired firemen, EMTs, and honorary members. The organization was founded in order to support the volunteer firemen and EMTs by providing education training on essential tasks. The organization supports its goal of educating the public on what they do through the museum. It also helps fund their operations.
4th of July Celebrations
One of the biggest days of the year in Edgartown is the 4th of July. People from all over Cape Cod and the islands fill the streets of the town for a day filled with fun celebrations and fireworks. One of the crowd favorites is the 4th of July parade that has been ongoing since 1844. The organization behind planning the parade is the Edgartown Fire Department. The star of the parade is the 1855 button tub.
Each year the fire department showcases their prized button tub that is housed in the museum. It hasn’t always been completely functional, but in 2005, the 150th anniversary of the parade, the button tub was restored using techniques materials that were typical back in 1855. Since then, the fire department has brought back the traditions of spraying water from the button tub into the crowd.
Also featured in the parade are the 1927 and 1952 Mack fire trucks that are also housed at the museum. The 1927 truck was out of commission for a few years but was restored in 2011 in honor of the museum expansion.
Next time you are in Edgartown, make sure to stop by the Edgartown Fire Museum to check out a piece of fire and parade history.