April 20, 2024


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St. Helena Historical Society hosts open house, launches firefighting exhibit | Lifestyles

The St. Helena Historical Society is launching a new exhibit and hosting an open house on Sunday, May 1, at 1 p.m. at the Heritage Center, 1255 Oak Ave.

The exhibit, “The History of Firefighting,” features artifacts and photographs from the collection of longtime volunteer fireman Art Carr, who also will be the featured speaker at the event. He’ll be sharing anecdotes that trace the development of St. Helena’s fire department. Art’s collection includes helmets that date back to the late 1890s, clothing, fire extinguishers, hoses and other equipment.

Carr reminds us that with open flames, fires were an inevitable part of life.

People relied on candles, lanterns and open fireplaces to cook their food, to provide light and to heat their homes and businesses. But it was easy for those open flames to be knocked over and ignite curtains and tablecloths, haylofts and barns. Providing a way to fight the inevitable fires became an important part of building the community’s infrastructure.

As city planners became more sophisticated, they built a dam on Spring Mountain so that water flowed downhill into the fire hydrants on Main Street. Firemen would roll their hose carts to the hydrants and hope that their hoses were long enough to reach the flames.

Join SHHS as it celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with wine and bites. This is also the annual membership meeting for Historical Society members.

The Historical Society moved into its new home at 1255 Oak Ave. and opened the Heritage Center in 2022. It’s now open on Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. It’s a small museum that documents St. Helena’s history that dates back 10,000 years to the area’s Native Americans, the Wappos.

“We’re looking forward to showing off our Heritage Center. Many of our loyal volunteers have been carefully cataloging artifacts for 20 years. We’ve been entrusted with preserving memories,” said SHHS President Stephen Taplin. “We take this role seriously.”