Greenfield opens time capsule from 1936 fire station

  • The fire station time capsule from 1936 was carefully pried open in the temporary fire station on Thursday. STAFF PHOTOS/PAUL FRANZ

  • The fire station’s time capsule from 1936 contained information for the First National Bank & Trust Co. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Soggy photos of Greenfield and other ephemera were found in the time capsule.

  • Mayor Roxann Wedegartner and Fire Chief Robert Strahan were on hand as Clark Seaman and Robert Ferris pried open the time capsule from 1936. Annual reports, newspapers, coins, photos and other items were found in it. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Retired Greenfield Fire Capt. Bob Ferris identified this picture of his grandfather, Fire Chief Herb Ferris, in the fire station time capsule.

  • Annual reports, newspapers, coins, photos and other memorabilia were found in the fire station time capsule from 1936. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • A Greenfield Recorder-Gazette from March 1936 with a front page article about the new fire station was found in the time capsule. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 10/21/2021 4:49:52 PM

GREENFIELD — Standing beside a table full of the contents from a time capsule “buried” at the fire station in 1936, retired Fire Capt. Bob Ferris remarked on the photo of his grandfather, former Fire Chief Herb Ferris.

“It was a little emotional to see this,” Bob Ferris said.

On Thursday afternoon, city officials, including Mayor Roxann Wedegartner, and a handful of members of the Fire Department were invited to the temporary fire station on Hope Street for the opening of a time capsule taken from the southeast cornerstone of the former fire station on Main Street.

The opening of the time capsule took place just hours before the city closed on the sale of the property near the intersection of Main Street and Coombs Avenue, where the new permanent fire station is slated to be built.

“(The time capsule) has been the discussion of firefighter folklore that gets passed year to year,” Fire Chief Robert Strahan said, as a group of volunteers worked to carefully chip away at the copper box’s exterior.

The capsule contained a Greenfield Recorder-Gazette article from March 1936, with a front page story titled, “How new fire station will appear,” an Annual Report from 1936 and a Town Meeting warrant from 1935. A booklet of Town Meeting representatives was also included, as were a handful of coins, a Franklin County Hospital memorandum of agreement and photos of several members of the Fire Department.

Among them was a photo of former Fire Chief Ferris.

Bob Ferris, who retired from the department after 36 years, said his grandfather originally came to the Greenfield Fire Department to help build the new station.

“They were building this station, and they recruited him,” he said.

Ferris said he’s glad to know the artifacts found in the capsule will continue to be preserved, though he wished they had been kept in better shape over the years.

“It’s our hope to reseal this and incorporate it into the new fire station,” Strahan said of the time capsule, noting certain items may need to be reproduced.

Strahan said he didn’t know what to expect to find in the capsule but was glad to be “preserving our history.”

“It was pretty nice to have Bob Ferris here, seeing a picture of his grandfather,” he added.

Along with Ferris, Steve Gunn and Clark Seaman, introduced by Strahan as the “station historians,” meticulously pulled pages of newspaper articles apart and separated booklets with town documents, all relating, somehow, to the construction of the fire station on Main Street.

“We’d always heard there was something in there, and this proves it,” Gunn said.

Wedegartner echoed the excitement of others at the gathering.

“It’s really great,” she said. “It’s like looking back in time and into the future.”

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906


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