Help Preserve This Friendship Firehouse Artifact in Alexandria

by Lee Hernly, Editor
Vote for this Friendship Firehouse Museum artifact in the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) 2019 Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts program.

The Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) is pleased to announce the nominees to the 2019 Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts program. The public is invited to vote for their favorite endangered artifact and may also donate toward its conservation.

Access the full list of 2019 nominees at this link.

Firefighting equipment from the 19th century, a 1942 Dodge WC-53 Carryall, a rare 1843 copy of the Declaration of Independence, and a WWII camera collection, including the Konica Aerial, used by the Japanese during the attack on Pearl Harbor, are but a few of the outstanding items nominated this year. A vast array of collecting institutions care for our communities’ treasures, including museums, historic houses, libraries, and historical societies. The care they provide is time-consuming and expensive. The Top 10 program brings awareness to the efforts of museums as stewards of our history, culture and heritage. Also, the program provides an opportunity for the public to get engaged by voting for their favorite artifact.

The two institutions that receive the most votes will receive awards of $4,000 and $3,000 respectively to help conserve their endangered artifacts!

“Each year that we do this program, I am amazed by the diversity and importance of the artifacts in the care of Virginia’s museums. Each year, we have success raising awareness for endangered artifacts, and collecting institutions benefit from the Top 10 by garnering support for their conservation efforts. I am confident that this year will be no different,” says Jennifer Thomas, VAM’s executive director.

One of the artifacts up for a grant is the 1858 Prettyman Hose Carriage from Friendship Firehouse Museum. The Friendship Fire Company, established in 1774, was the first fire company in Alexandria. Friendship members were volunteers – motivated by their concern for the property and well-being of the community.

Today the Friendship Firehouse, built in 1855, is a museum open to the public. Buckets, hose, axes, and Friendship’s mid-19th-century suction engine – elaborately decorated with the company’s clasped-hands insignia – are on view. Visitors also see their ornate hose reel carriage that was made in Alexandria, and learn about the company as a fraternal organization and its larger role in the community. In addition to fighting fires, Friendship members participated in parades and performed ceremonial duties for civic events. In the firehouse Meeting Room ceremonial artifacts such as helmets, capes and other regalia, are exhibited alongside the room’s original furniture.

Friendship Firehouse Museum is located at 107 South Alfred Street in Old Town, Alexandria. The site is open from 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM on Saturdays and Sundays; closed on major holidays. The museum is owned and operated by the City of Alexandria, and managed by the City’s Office of Historic Alexandria. Special programming is offered throughout the year.

For more information, visit this link or contact the museum by calling 703.746.3891.

Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts is a project of the Virginia Association of Museums and was originally funded through an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Connecting to Collections Statewide Implementation Grant. Due to its success, the program has been replicated in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Colorado.

Please visit this link for updated information on the top 10 artifacts and a list of nominees.

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