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Cicero Fire House No. 2 Opens - December 6, 1898

The following is a transcript of a contemporary report that appeared in the Oak Park Times newspaper two days after the opening ceremony of the firehouse that is now the home of Oak Park River Forest Museum.
{A note on place names: Prior to Oak Park’s incorporation in 1902, the western portion of today’s village was called Oak Park and the eastern portion was called Ridgeland. Both were part of Cicero Township. In 1898 the most populated area of Cicero Township were the villages of Oak Park, Ridgeland, and Austin. In fact, the Cicero Township Board held its meetings at the 2nd floor public hall of the firehouse until 1900.)
Headline from the Oak Park Times, December 8th, 1898

Ridgeland Engine House Opens

The people of Ridgeland formally opened the new fire engine house at Lombard and Lake on Tuesday evening. The program was under the direction of the Ridgeland Fire Association, which was organized in 1886, and still holds its charter, activity and influence, and the Ridgeland fire department, Station No. 2. The exercises from beginning to end were well planned and successfully carried out, and reflects great credit on all who had them in charge.

The Elegant New Building

The reception and festivities were held in the handsome new engine house, for which the enterprising men of Ridgeland, the pioneers of fire organization and apparatus in Cicero, have worked for ten years and of which they are justly proud. It has a graceful front and exterior, and within is very tastefully designed and completed. It is 40 x 65 feet, exclusive of the shed, and two stories high. The engine-room is finished in Georgia pine, hand finished, and is intended to accommodate Cicero’s first fire engine and a good hook and ladder wagon. The stalls in the rear are all done to match, with iron fittings in black. Modern fire alarm wires and up-to-date accessories are connected with the building.

The second floor includes a room for the men, with lockers and lavatory, and a public hall. The floors are hard maple, the finishings Georgia pine. The harmony of colors and well-studied designs observable throughout the building were praised by the hundred guests and visitors, who were surprised at the completeness of the station, and Mr. W. J. Van Keuren, the architect, was complimented on all sides for the excellence of his design and the good taste shown in the form and finish of the building in all its features. This is said to be as handsome a fire building as there is in Cook County.

The Evening’s Program

The opening exercises took place in the public hall. President Emerson formally turned the custody of the building over to Chief J. W. Carter, with the key and warned him that everything must be kept in perfect order. Mr. Carter accepted the trust and said the command should be faithfully carried out.

Then Miss Jennie Scott, on behalf of Misses Nellie Cummings, Nellie Scott, Mazy Pratt and herself, presented a fine flag for the engine house to the fire company, saying it should wave over the best company, in the best house, in the best town, in the best state. Mr. Carter accepted it on behalf of the company.

The firemen and their guests then repaired to the engine room, whose floors were occupied with three long tables, tastefully spread and decorated with flowers and served by McClaroth of Austin. During the dinner, music was furnished by a mandolin club and several very pleasing songs by Jeneson’s Illinois Quartet of Maywood.

Mr. George Butters successfully presided as toastmaster. He introduced Mr. E. A, Cummings who delivered a graceful address of welcome to the town’s officers, firemen and guests present. This received a round of hearty applause, well merited.

President Emerson then spoke for an hour, and generally squared things up with Oak Park. He trimmed down his opponents, defended his administration and praised his friends. He scouted the Oak Park article of politics as that of "has-been and would-be politicians," and declared his own style of managers will be "on top" in the end. He announced various things the Town boards [sic] expects to do.

Trustee W. P. Utley made a brief and pleasing address. Mr. George Charlton, the first fire marshal of No. 2 and Cicero, spoke of old times, ten years ago, when the first building was presented, and gave a little talk brim full of wit and merriment.

Trustee Attridge spoke briefly, urging better streets and aid from those who use them-- the car lines-- to keep them in order. Mr. W. C. Stevens, vice-president of the original association, urged better paid firemen.

Then the occasion closed with dancing in the public hall, to music by the mandolin club.