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Visit the Boston Fire Museum
Did you know...
- that Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor John Winthrop outlawed wooden chimneys and thatched roofs in 1631 (fearing razing of the City of Boston by fire)?
- that Boston had the first publicly funded, paid (not volunteer) Fire Department, established in 1679?
- that the first American fire engine was built in 1642 at the Saugus Iron Works (Saugus, MA) by a British-American inventor named Joseph Jenckes (the spelling varies; it is also spelled Jenks or Jynks)?
Most visitors who bring their young kids to Boston know about and visit the Boston Children's Museum. But they often miss this little museum, dedicated to preserving and displaying firefighting memorabilia from the Greater Boston area. Located in the old Congress Street Fire Station, built in 1891, at 344 Congress Street (tucked away right around the corner from the Children's Museum), the Boston Fire Museum has something for every age group: antique fire trucks that kids from 2 to 92 can climb into and pretend to drive, firefighter's gear (including boots), and photographs and newspaper clippings of famous fires in Boston (such as the one at the Cocoanut Grove in 1942).
The Boston Fire Museum is only open on Saturdays, from 11 in the morning to 6 in the evening. It is a small museum, so it would only take you an hour or two at most to visit. Admission is free but a donation is gladly accepted. If you do go, please consider that the Boston Sparks Association, which runs the Museum, uses your donations to maintain the old Congress Street Fire Station, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places back in 1987, to educate people about fire safety, and to maintain the antique and modern firefighting equipment on exhibit at the Museum; so please be as generous as you can!
The Boston Fire Museum is one hundred percent run and maintained by volunteers. Some of the volunteers are retired firefighters who can talk about their experiences in vivid detail. The Museum also has a small gift shop (it was more of a gift kiosk or gift shack at the back of the old Congress Street Fire Station, when we visited) where you or your kids can buy diecast metal fire trucks, bumper stickers and other memorabilia of your visit. The volunteers also often give younger visitors a plastic fire helmet to commemorate their visit!
Plan a Saturday in Boston with Your Kids!
Planning a trip to Boston with your kids? Not sure what to do of a Saturday in Boston, especially if it's winter or a rainy day? Here's a sample plan for your day!
- Have breakfast at Flour Bakery + Cafe (12 Farnsworth Street), known as one of Boston's best bakeries.
- Plan to arrive at the Boston Fire Museum when it opens at 11 a.m. and spend about an hour or two there.
- If your crew is already hungry for lunch, nip down to Salvatore's at 225 Northern Ave.
- Then, head back up to the Children's Museum. Be ready to spend a good three to four hours here; there is lots to do, especially for kids from 1 to about 10 years of age.