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The Rockaway News



Handsome New Building Thrown Open to Public for Inspection on Wednesday Following Parade –Exercises and Dancing In the Evening

©Contributed by Frank Parise

Washington’s Birthday was a red letter date in Inwood, for not only did all of the organizations in the village pay tribute to the Father of our Country in various exercises and events, but the local fire laddies took advantage of the holiday to dedicate their new fire house, erected at a cost of $60,000. It was a proud night for Chief W. Spencer Bowker and in the laudatory remarks of the speakers he came in for no small eulogy as "the outstanding figure who has done more to put the Inwood Fire Department where it is than any other man in town." The recent census gave Inwood a population of $8,000 and as many of these citizens as could get into the firehouse were on hand for the ceremonies. Prior to the formalities, which began about 8:30 o’clock, there was an inspection of the building, the firemen acting as hosts and guides.

In the early part of the evening, while Chief Bowker devoted himself to the concoction of two big 20 gallon milk cans of fruit punch for the refreshments later, Elmer Wood, secretary of the Fire Department, acted as chairman until the ceremonies began, when he turned the session over to William Chave, chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners. The invocation and dedication prayer were offered by the Rev. Roby F. day, pastor of St. Paul’s M. P. Church. Former assemblyman Thomas A. McWhinney was booked as dedication speaker, but as his remarks were limited almost entirely to park projects in the Town of Hempstead, Elmer Wood, secretary of the department, who followed him and gave an exceedingly interesting outline of the history of the Inwood Fire Department, was easily the "man of the hour" on Inwood’s big occasion. The Blue Pyramid Syncopators, an orchestra made up of Inwood young men, volunteered for the incidental concert and music for the dancing which followed the ceremonies.

Earlier in the day there was a parade through the principal streets of Inwood, led by Fire Chief Bowker and with music furnished by the Inwood Fire Department Band and the band of the Freeport Fire Department under the direction of William Dayton.

Mr. McWhinney opened his remarks with a compliment to the people of Inwood for their spirit of progress in making it possible for the village to have such a splendid building as the fire house. This, however was to be expected, he said from the village that has the population of one of the most substantial in the Town of Hempstead right hand bower of town. If not its backbone. He pointed to Supervisor G. Wilbur Doughty as a sample of "The Spirit of Inwood."

Mr. McWhinney then took up the plans of the Commission of which he is chairman, to develop 10,000 acres of town land into an ocean park that will be, when developed, the finest in the world, and that will, he said, pay all the taxes of the town and relieve homeowners of much of the burden. He begged his audience not to set the project down as "a scheme of politicians to feather their own nests," but to believe that the men back of it have the interests of the Town of Hempstead at heart, as evidence of which, he said, all the proposed advantages of the improvements, such as athletic fields, etc., will be turned over to the public schools for management and conduct. He showed maps of the proposition and promised to return any time Inwood set a date and show pictures of the commission’s plans.

Secretary Elmer Wood opened his remarks with a verbal bouquet to Fire Chief Bowker "The man that went to work with hammer and trowel and gave evenings, Sundays and holidays to work that the Fire Deaprtment, otherwise, could not have done." It then came out that the big club room on the top floor of the firehouse had been finished by Chief Bowker, Morris Sprague and Fred Wutze, the latter doing the carpenter work and the Chief and Mr. Sprague the plaster work. The finishing touches to the latter were put on by the Chief in what he called "an alligator finish."

Mr. Wood gave credit to Fredrick Sarro, not a member of the department, for getting the signatures which created the new Fire District and made the new firehouse possible. Then going back forty one years he showed that Inwood’s first fire company was organized in 1887 when Inwood was called "Westville." It had a charter membership of 55 and was called the Electric Hook and Ladder Company. Alex C. Wanser, present treasurer of the Inwood Fire Department, was the man who named it. The first officers were, Wilson Frazier, foreman; first assistant foreman, Henry Smith; second assistant foreman,

J. R. Weatherwax; Theodore Spargue secretary; George Hicks, assistant secretary, Edward Rinehart, treasurer, William H. Wanser, Charles L. Pearsall and Peter N. Davenport, trustees. Fredrick Smith, Walter B. Wood, Theodore Wanser, Elias Abrams, Edward Rinehart and Peter Davis were named a charter committee. Running expenses were needed and a committee was named to start a public subscription. Walter B. Wood, Charles L. Pearsall, William H. Wanser, Peter Davenport and Edward Rinehart were named a committee to solicit funds to procure a truck. On March 16,1887 Wilson Frazier, James W. Safford and William H. Wanser went to Bayonne, N. J. to look at a truck that the local fire department had for sale. They were instructed to pay no more than $200 for it, but bought it for $150. Peter Davenpport, Walter B. Wood, Charles L. Pearsall and Warren Rinehart agreed to loan the money for the purchase of the truck.

In August, 1887, the fire company purchased for $250 the plot of ground on McNeil Avenue where the old firehouse now stands, and which is probably worth today $10,000. The lumber for the firehouse cost $225, making a total of $475 for the building and ground, and $150 for apparatus. Today’s Inwood firehouse cost $60,000 and the apparatus $23,000. The present building is complete in every detail. On the first floor is the apparatus room, an immense room housing five pieces of apparatus, and off it – a three room apartment for the custodian and his family. On the second floor are the meeting rooms beautifully finished in grey with complete furnishings of solid oak in grey finish. On the top floor is a men’s recreation hall, finished in rough plaster in soft green tints and complete with two pool tables and six card tables.

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E-Mail- Frank Parise - comments, questions?

Edited by Linda Pearsall Harvey