The Larchmont Historical Society, together with its Fire History Committee, will recognize October–National Fire Prevention Month– by hosting The Roaring ‘20s Firemen’s Ball, Saturday, October 30 at the Larchmont Yacht Club. The evening is a benefit to help support the restoration of Larchmont’s vintage Engine One, a 1922 American LaFrance fire truck and a unique piece of the nation’s fire fighting history.
The event is from 6:30 pm-11 pm. Tickets are $75 for members and $95 for non-members (which includes a free one-year membership to the LHS). Tickets can be purchased online now at larchmonthistory.org or by sending a check payable to LHS to: LHS, P.O. Box 742, Larchmont, NY 10538.
The evening kicks off with a special welcome cocktail that was served during the heady days of the 1920s, when Larchmont’s firehouse was still known as the “Fire Department of Millionaires.” A cash bar will also be available. Dinner and dessert will be followed by dancing (oil those knees for the Charleston!) and a sizzling silent auction featuring unique donations from the fire fighting community, as well as New York City hotels and local establishments.
In the spirit of the evening’s theme and the Halloween weekend, 1920s costumes are encouraged.
Engine One’s Proud History and Current Restoration
An on-site exhibit at the ball will be devoted to Engine One and its restoration project, which began in 2009.
In 1922, Larchmont issued a $10,000 bond to acquire new fire apparatus with updated technology. In 1923, the Larchmont Hose Company took possession of Engine One, a 1922 American LaFrance pumper that served Larchmont until 1947.
Engine One was sold in 1947 to collectors in upstate New York and was later sold again to a fire apparatus museum in Seattle, Washington.
In the 1970s, Washington resident Richard Cooper bought Engine One for his personal collection. After his death, the Larchmont Fire Department purchased Engine One from his estate in 2002.
Five years later, the Larchmont Fire Department companies donated Engine One to the Larchmont Historical Society, which created the Fire History Committee to oversee the restoration of the engine and develop a program to maintain and display it. Engine One is currently being restored to its original specifications at Firefly Restorations of Hope, Maine.
At the time Engine One left its service to Larchmont, it appeared the truck was painted red. However, original factory records, acquired through the American LaFrance museum in South Carolina, indicate that Engine One arrived painted ivory white on top and fire engine-red below. The wheels were made of oak with hard rubber tires. A photograph, most likely taken from 1938, shows a white-painted truck. (See photos and more on the LHS Engine One site.)
From the Larchmonter Times, January 11, 192: “When Hose Company No. 2 meets next Tuesday evening, the members will undoubtedly have their first view of the splendid new apparatus of the company which has been on its way from the factory for over a week. This fine motor, the very last word in fire fighting machinery, will replace the old steam engine and hose wagon which have rendered such valuable service during the past few years, but which are now regarded as practically obsolete. With the new installation Larchmont will be able to maintain the high position which she has long held among those villages which are proud of their fire protection, and whose population know that sense of security which only a thoroughly efficient fire department can give.”
Funding the LHS Engine One Restoration Project
The fundraising campaign for Engine One was off to a great start in 2008, thanks to a generous donation from the Orans Family, in memory of Jacob Orans, a volunteer firefighter in Larchmont. With the Orans family grant, as well as additional donations from the volunteer fire companies, the LHS is at two-thirds of its goal for restoring the engine.
Once Engine One is restored to its former glory and arrives back in Larchmont, the LHS intends to use it for both educational and recreational purposes.
The Larchmont Historical Society was chartered in 1981 as a non-profit organization to discover, preserve and disseminate information concerning the natural, social and civic history of Larchmont and to promote the preservation of historical sites and structures. For more information about LHS, visit larchmonthistory.org, call (914) 381-2239 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.