SOMERVILLE, MASS. FIRE DEPARTMENT.
THE high state of efficiency which the the fire department of Somerville has reached is in keeping with its materiel. Of course the department could utilize more than it has; but what it has is good and is made the most of. The headquarters building is a model of convenience. Its internal arrangements, sa far as they concern the chief’s apartments, the fire alarm room, and the battery room have been already described and fitly illustrated. In this number are presented views of the housed apparatus and the exterior of the building; which, as will be seen, combines the useful as well as the ornamental—the latter feature being more conspicuous in the hose house No. 5 (of which Irving C. Jackson is captain) illustrated in the last FIRE ANIJ ATER.
The new apparatus house which is being built lor the use of the department occupies the site of the old convent of I’rsttline nuns which was despoiled and burned by a mob on Mondayevening August n, 1834, before the city was separated from Charlestown. It was tlte first large fire of which there is any record.
The buildings destroyed were built of brick; the main building, erected in 1820, was So feet long, four stories high, with cupola, and two large wings, two stories high, erected in 1829, aiso a farm house, and bishop’s cottage, and other buildings. They were all splendidly furnished and perfectly appointed throughout The grounds were beautifully laid out and the location magnificent. The buildings were erected for tlte education of girls and occupied in 1827 by the Order of St. Ursula, organized in 1536, to administer relief to the sick and afflicted and to educate the young. The teachers were nuns educated in French convents, the pupils, daughters of wealthy Protestants from all sections of the country, mostly of the best Massachusetts families. At the time of the fire there were fifty-seven pupils, most of them very young, twelve nuns, and three attendants, all under the direct charge of a lady superior. Of these nuns many false statements were put into circulation, which inflamed the ignorant and bigoted portion of the community. The official statement of the selectmen was in the printer’s hands and was to be made public on the next day. The mob, however, would not wait and by 8 o’clock on the Monday evening the rioters began their work by throwing stones and other missiles at the windows of the building. A large bonfire was made of tar barrels, which they brought with them, evidently to warn those in league with the conspirators to assemble. The bonfire also attracted many to the spot who had no hand in it whatever. A party of fifty or more persons disguised in fantastic dresses and with painted faces, after warning the inmates who had retired for the night to make their escape, proceeded to assault the house. The ladies of the institution, with the children, retired from the rear of the building into the garden and thence to a neighbor’s farm house. The mob then sacked the building, destroyed much property, including many musical instruments, and confiscated all the money, of which there was a considerable amount, and other valuables which they could conveniently carry away with them. They heaped all c imbustible materials in the centre of the floors and applied the torch in many of the rooms, so that the building was very quickly wholly enveloped in flames. The fire was started at 12.30 o’clock, and was seen for many miles distant, l ire companies in large numbers came from all the surrounding towns, but were prevented from working by the mob, although they would have been unable to save the building,owing to the scarcity of water. The fire companies were not in league with the secret conspiracy which did the work, neither did they know the fire was to occur, except from general rumor. The investigation after the lire proved this without a doubt. Theie were several buildings in all burned, with a total loss of about $60,000. The mayor of Boston called a public meeting in Kaneuil Hall the next day, at which resolutions condemnatory of the outrage were drawn up and published. The new station will be an ornament to the neighborhood.
SOMERVILLE FIREMEN’S RELIEF ASSOCIATION organized on May 9, 1870, with Chief D. A. Sanborn as president, T. D. Dennett, as vice-president, Robert A. Vina! as secretary and treasurer; the trustees being Chief Sanborn, Robert A. Yinal, S. H. Stevens, of hose J, Joseph II. Hollis, of hose 2, and Melvin B. Ricker, of engine 1. The association was incorporated by a special act of the State legislature on March 19, 1890. In 1863 Chief James R. Hopkins became president and has combined in office ever since.
The present officers are: President, James K Hopkins; vice-president, Bernard Y. Lawrence; treasurer, David A. Sanborn; clerk, John F. Hill. Directors, the above named, with Assistant Engineer Nathaniel C. Barker.Sewell M. Rich, of steamer No. 1, Samuel 11. Stevens, of engine No. .4, Benjamin W. Daley,of chemical A.Thomas H. Daley,of hose No. 1, Frank W. Ring, of hose No. 2, Alfred R. Higgins, of hose No. 3, Edward E. Trefren, of hose No. 5, James M. Could, of ladder company No. r, and Harry Elwell, of ladder company No. 2.