Ann Arbor water company


Ann Arbor water company

The city dug wells and large cisterns at Main intersections to provide water for fire fighting. By 1886 the demand for a more dependable supply was met with 100 hydrants installed by the new Ann Arbor water company. From a station Northwest of town, water was pumped from the nearby Huron river up to the Sunset road reservoir. Pipes carried water from there down into town. In 1914 the city purchased the company.

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Barney, Duke, and Jim


Barney, Duke, and Jim

The last three horses, Barney, Duke, and Jim, were retired
to a farm when the department switched to motorized trucks in 1915.

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Firefighter wagons


Firefighter wagons

When the alarm sounded, horses released from their stable behind the firehouse knew their assigned wagons. Harnesses suspended above were dropped down and fastened.

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Firefighters at Firemen's Hall, East Huron Street, 1906


Firefighters at Firemen's Hall, East Huron Street, 1906

Fred Sipley (right of the horses) was the police marshal before he became the first full-time fire chief in 1889. His successor as chief, Charles Edwards, stands left of the horses in this 1906 photograph. Fires from oil lamps and wood-burning stoves were a constant worry in early Ann Arbor. At the cry of "Fire!" everyone came running with family water pails. By 1838 the village had two volunteer fire companies, two small engine houses, and a hand-operated fire pump.

More companies formed, with names like Eagle, Defiance, Mayflower, and Relief. Volunteers trained, cleaned equipment, and organized social activities at their engine houses. Fiercely proud of their uniforms and equipment, they delighted in parading through town. When Firemen's Hall was built in 1882, it had a large meeting room upstairs. With the gradual change to a full-time paid department, the room was converted to a dormitory.

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IMG_8235


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IMG_8228
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Firemen show off their first motorized trucks in 1915


Firemen show off their first motorized trucks in 1915

Ann Arbor firemen show off their first motorized trucks in 1915. In 1882, after renting horses for several years, the city purchased its own horses to haul fire equipment that had become too heavy for volunteers to pull.

Frame location: On City Hall lawn, northeast corner of Fifth and Huron, inside sidewalk crossing and south of large spruce tree, facing southwest

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Ann Arbor's first City Hall, 1907-1963


Ann Arbor's first City Hall, 1907-1963

Completed in 1907, Ann Arbor's first City Hall provided first-floor office space for expanding public services and a council chamber above. The eight-man Police Department had a separate entrance on Fifth Avenue. The Fire Department was already located across Huron Street in the landmark 1882 Firemen's Hall. After incorporation in 1833, the village council met sporadically in the Courthouse office of Ann Arbor's founder, John Allen, the first village president. Ordinances adopted at the first meeting dealt with matters of public safety, such as the discharge of firearms, and hogs and dogs running wild. In 1836 the village established a volunteer fire department. Putting out fires and providing cistern water to fight them cost over a third of the village's total 1848 income of $2,152. The village hired workers to ring the Presbyterian church bell to mark the hours, erect and light street lamps around the Courthouse, and repair the dirt streets. The 1851 charter made the village a city governed by a mayor and aldermen with enlarged taxing powers. The first paid police force was organized in 1871, funded by license fees on saloons and billiard tables, which were considered "sources of disorder." Until 1895 the city continued to lease space in the County Courthouse. Expanding services then made it necessary to rent offices on North Fourth Avenue in the new "City Building" and by 1907 to build a new City Hall.

Frame location: On City Hall lawn, northeast corner of Fifth and Huron, inside sidewalk crossing and south of large spruce tree, facing southwest

Collection info: Sturgis Collection

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