1887 Picture of the Luther Street Fire Station and the Men of the SFD

On December 2, 2014, Deputy Chief Tim Conroy (now retired) presented me with a very old photograph of the Luther Street Fire Station and members of the SFD.

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As I remember it, he told me he found it in one of the closets at the Central Fire Station (Fire HQ).  Clearly, the photo had seen better days and needed to be rescued.  It measured 17″ x 14″.   It is clearly one of the oldest photos of the Luther Street Fire Station and the firefighters that served there. I felt this photo was incredibly important to our history and it needed to be restored.

So I scanned the photo and set out looking for someone to digitally restore the photo.  I posted the job on a website called eLance.  Within a very short period of time, I selected someone to do the work.  Here is the restored version.  It was scanned at such a high resolution, that we can zoom in on areas and see detail that we could never have dreamed existed.

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The total restoration cost to me was $200…. a price well worth it.  Don’t you think?

The next thing to do was to date the picture.  We do have other pictures of the Luther Street Fire Station, so we first compared this picture to the others.  There are some clear differences which helped us narrow the time period, but it wasn’t just the Station that helped us determine the date.

1887 First Chiefs & Captains of the SFD

The Stamford Fire Department was officially formed in 1885.  But it wasn’t until the appointment of the first full-time Chief, George Bowman, that things really started to get rolling.  Using a picture of the 1887 First Chiefs and Captains of the Stamford Fire Department, we have been able to identify the same men in the rescued photo.  The other men in the photograph, wearing the Derby’s, are probably the “on Call” members of the SFD.

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Chiefs of the SFD

Fire Chief George Bowman, Assistant Chief A.M. Horton and Assistant Chief Harry W Parker

Fire Captain George Eagle and Fire Captain John C Nelson

Fire Captain George Eagle and Fire Captain John C Nelson

SFD Fire Captain

Fire Captain M J Mullen

Other Highlights of the Picture

Here is a zoomed-in look at the globe light over the bay doors shows 1887.  The Luther Street Fire Station underwent a significant expansion and renovations project in December 1886, so this light is probably there to commemorate the year the station re-opened as a full-fledged Fire Station for the SFD.

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Is that a dog, a pig or a goat?  Whatever it was, it would not sit still for the picture.  In those days, the shutter of the camera had to be left open for several seconds in order to capture the picture.  So while all the firemen remained motionless, the animals were harder to control, explaining the blur of this animal and the horses.

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Even the neighborhood kids got in the picture.

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What?  Was there no more room in front of the building?

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Is that a Cossack driving one of the horse-drawn apparatus?

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As a point of interest, no motorized apparatus ever ran out of the Luther Street Fire Station.  There are pictures of motorized vehicles in front of the station, but it is known that the first motorized vehicle was bought for the new Central Fire Station on Main Street.

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