SACKETS HARBOR — A symbol of this village’s firefighting heritage has rung in a new era after being moved to a more visible location in the village.
A bell that once hung in the firehouse of the Sackets Harbor Fire Department when it was located on West Main Street, now the site of the village gazebo, has been removed from in front of the Third Alarm/public safety building, 411 W. Main St.. The bell has been relocated to the property of the mini replica building of the village’s first fire station at the intersection of North Broad Street and Chapin Alley — across the street from the current fire station.
The replica building was dedicated in 2009 and houses a restored 1841 fire pumper.
“The bell was on top of the original fire station,” said Gary Loomis, a retired assistant fire chief at Fort Drum and retired village firefighter. “It was taken down at some point and stored.”
The fire department still maintained ownership of the bell, even as it was displayed in front of the Third Alarm Building, which houses village police and Hounsfield town court.
“It was getting to be in deplorable condition, ready to fall,” Mr. Loomis said. “So we came up with the idea of moving it next to the little fire station where people can get a look at it. We thought there would be the best place for the bell because originally it was on top of the original station.”
The move was made by a village DPW crew about 10 days ago. Mr. Loomis and Steve Goodrich, another retired firefighter, were appointed caretakers of the replica fire station by the village and came up with the idea to move the bell.
The bell was produced in the Meneely Bell Foundry in West Troy, now Watervliet, in 1845. The foundry was founded in 1826 by Andrew Meneely.
According to Times files, the bell atop in the village firehouse when it was on West Main Street was given to the department by Col. Elisha Camp (1786-1866). The bell was given to him by the trustees of the Sackets Harbor Presbyterian Society in 1893. Col. Camp is buried at Lakeside Cemetery. According to the family’s website, “Elisha and (wife) Sophia built their lives in Sackets Harbor by building Camp Manor, a shipping industry, a real estate empire, general store, mills, and railroads and by additional ventures as an attorney and in banking and mining.”
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Here, from Times files, are some 19th century history highlights of the Sackets Harbor Fire Department:
n The first fire company in the village was organized after the War of 1812. The bucket brigade required owners of property to furnish and keep a certain number of buckets full of water on hand.
n Col. Camp’s paper mill was lost in a fire on May 28, 1838. The building was located near the mouth of Mill Creek.
n A fire in August of 1843 destroyed about 40 buildings, at a cost estimated at $35,000 — worth about $1.5 million today. Soon after the fire, a hand-operated fire engine from Boston was purchased.
n In 1851, the Ontario House on Broad Street, along with five stores and dwellings, were destroyed by fire.
n In June of 1883, an arsonist apparently set fire to the Clark and Robbins grain warehouse.
n On Jan. 3, 1886, flames consumed the Gadwins brick block on Main Street, which included a hardware store and dwellings at the intersection of Ogden.
n On May 29, 1886, the historic warehouse built by the Navy during the War of 1812 was lost in a fire.
n The worst fire in the village may have occurred in August of 1889. It started in the Boulton store and flames spread to McEvoy’s Grocery, Conlin’s Grocery, Hastings saloon, Clark and Bowe Fish House and office, the railroad passenger and ticket office, and other businesses, ranging from a meat market to a grain warehouse. The fire then crossed Ray Street, where it claimed more buildings, including the town hall.
n The department purchased a Clapp and Jones steamer with hose cart in 1899.