Hose & Hook & Ladder Truck Building (Thomaston Firehouse)
The Hose & Hook & Ladder Truck Building, also known as the Thomaston Firehouse, was designed by Robert W. Hill and stands in central Thomaston, Connecticut. It was built from 1882 to 1883. This brick building combines architectural elements from Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, and Italianate styles. It served as the community's firehouse for around a century and is now home to the Crescent Art Gallery. Near the Firehouse, you can also see Trinity Church, designed by Richard Upjohn and built in 1871; the Thomaston Town Hall; and the Opera House, designed by Robert W. Hill and built in 1885.
Backstory and Context
Born in Waterbury, Connecticut in 1828, Hill worked for architects Henry Austin in New Haven and A.C. Nash in Milwaukee. He opened an office in Waterbury at age 30. His designs include the state armories in Waterbury, New London, Bridgeport, Norwalk, and New Britain; the Litchfield Courthouse; and the Opera House and Firehouse in Thomaston. The Opera House's design is similar to the Firehouse, though the Opera is bigger and has more ornamentation.
Design and Function:
The building is primarily made of brick, sourced from a nearby brickyard run by the Seth Thomas family. It also features granite trim.
As described by David Ransom, the Firehouse represents a "late-Victorian, eclectic version of the Queen Anne style. The multiple ridge lines of the roof and the varied brick and shingled wall textures establish the Queen Anne style, but the symmetrical plan of the building and the classical detail of the gables, treated as pediments, reflect the advent of the Colonial Revival."
To the left is a Venetian tower, typical of Italianate architecture. It has 4 stories and is ~70 feet high.
Inside, the ground floor has space that would have been occupied by fire-fighting equipment. This building housed two companies: Hook & Ladder Company No. 1 and Hose Company No. 2. Although they worked together to answer fire alarms, the building was set up to give each company its own facilities, including two front doors and two separate staircases. The Hose Company used the side next to the tower, since the tower was used to dry out the firehose.
Ransom characterizes the relationship between the companies as a sort of cooperative rivalry: "Older residents of Thomaston recall that each company guarded its independence with due sense of rivalry toward the other company."
On the second floor, there are rooms meant for meetings and social activities, including dances and parties. Each company has its own social room. These rooms are fairly spacious and have fireplaces. They reflect the important of socializing to the volunteer fire-fighting community.
The Firehouse served Thomaston until 1979, when a new firehouse was built.
Photo credit: doncram, Wiki Commons: