The 1927 Denton Firehouse was the epitome of the bygone era of a true “community project”. This photo c. 1927 shows original truck doors to be reinstalled and façade to be restored.
The original was doubled in size by an addition in 1954. In the 1970’s, when a new firehouse on Fifth Avenue was built in Denton, the old firehouse was converted into the office’s of the Town Hall. Recently, the Town Hall offices relocated to premises overlooking the Courthouse Green, and the old firehouse was given to the Society.
The Society is seeking to have the 1927 firehouse, the oldest in Caroline, restored to its classic 1927 exterior. The multi-phase project will use the interior for educational purposes related to the unique heritage and national significance of Caroline County on subjects from agriculture to military service to Indians.
This firehouse is now going to become The Caroline Heritage Center. As in the past, when nearly every family in the town or vicinity voluntarily contributed money for the construction of the 1927 Denton Firehouse, the Caroline Heritage Center hopes to become a community meeting place as well as a place for inspiration, education and exploration for all the citizens in the whole county and beyond.
The CCHS was pleased to get additional space as it is in need of more room for exhibits, and would like to provide an education venue as well as provide a space for all visitors to: conduct research, to find out about all the history and stories to be found in the county; and, to show them where these places are located within Caroline County. Hence, the need for a Heritage Center for the County!
Unfortunately, the old firehouse comes to the Society with some major structural problems! These problems will have to be addressed before the Center will be a safe and comply with all safety standards in order to allow visitors in. The multi-phase project has begun with grants obtained from MHAA, USDA, CCHS Members and Friends, and The Women’s Club of Caroline County. The initial monies have been used to acquire an accredited architect, Pam Gardner, Architect, to draw-up a concept plan and architectural plans, and we have had environmental, structural engineering, electrics and HVAC assessments completed. In addition, monies (and volunteer labor!) have been spent on demolishing part of the internal structures, which includes many walls of paneling and low ceilings, revealing the wonderful tall ceilings with many of the original tin ceiling panels! Signage is also being installed and the first stage, a large sign holder located outside the building, has been made by the students at the North Caroline High School Tech Department.
Unbelievably, JOK Walsh, President of the CCHS was able to locate the original 1927 firehouse doors, which a local farmer, Bob Singer, had fortuitously taken and stored in his barn! These are now being restored and, with the work started on the exterior to restore the 1927 classic exterior, which includes removing a “faux” mansard roof and windows added in the 1970’s, the doors will then be restored to their rightful place!
Sadly, the structural damage caused by the roof on the 1950’s addition putting extreme pressure on the old 1927 roof, caused major problems including leaking and the destabilizing of an external wall. This is an enormous expense to repair. The Society is working hard to get the funding for this second phase in order to carry out the repair and restoration of both the interior and exterior. When this is achieved, we will be able to safely allow people to come and view the plans, see the progress of the work so far, and give them the chance to come up with ideas for what they envisage would be important topics of interest to include in their Caroline Heritage Canter.
We remain positive that the Caroline Heritage Center will one day be completed and there will be a place in the county to go to find out all about the stories and how we got to where we are now. As well as exhibits and many research materials, we plan to incorporate interactive experiences showing how the people, organizations, the internal and external forces in history, and the heroes and the people’s ingenuity have shaped this county.
Many of our Caroline County residents remember how this old firehouse, in addition to housing the fireman who put out the fires, was a regular meeting place and they have many happy memories of Oyster Dinners and other celebrations held here. The Society hopes to bring back people to the restored firehouse and be surprised at what they can learn, share and enjoy by coming to the Caroline Heritage Center.