When Tom Hogan opened the Cold Spring Harbor Firehouse Museum in 2009, it followed four arduous years hunting down artifacts from the hamlet’s long history of firefighting. But in May he acquired something that holds an extra-special meaning this week.
Last month Hogan, 66, put the finishing touches on a 7-foot tower-shaped display memorializing Sept. 11, 2001 -- the basis of which is a piece of steel from one of the towers. The piece sits in a block of wood atop a 3-foot-tall dark wood base. It is in a glass enclosure that stands just under 4 feet high, the rear pane of which has etched names of the 343 firefighters and EMS workers who died in the attacks. Hanging on the wall, as the display’s background, is an American flag.
“One day a cardboard box arrived, and there’s this piece of steel that has a million miles of explanation to it and a power that you can’t even begin to imagine,” said Hogan, a 22-year veteran of the Cold Spring Harbor Fire Department, who requested a piece of steel from the New York City Port Authority in 2009.
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the attacks, the museum will be open to the public, free of charge, on this Friday through Sunday and Sept. 16-18. “You look at this and it has a certain hallowed significance to it,” he said.
The museum’s mission is to educate people about how firefighting has changed since the 1800s. Tours start with the Cold Spring Harbor Fire Department’s first engine, a man-powered pumper, sometimes referred to as a water witch. The machine would be rolled near a source of water, where a hose would be dropped in. Eight or more people would get on either side of it and pump its arms like a see-saw, throwing water up to 130 feet onto a fire. The museum has exhibits on the hamlet’s first steam-powered and gas-powered chemical trucks, as well as early instances of fire grenades and sprinkler systems.
The museum also has a Model T delivery truck at its rear, which is surrounded by historical photographs of the hamlet’s fire department. Hogan said that exhibit was a big part of his motivation for putting together the 9/11 memorial.
“What we’re trying to convey to people is that it’s your neighbor who is volunteering to help another neighbor," he said. "It’s the guy that drives the delivery truck that pulls together to fight the fire. The memorial represents the contribution and valor of 343 men who, without pausing for an instance, were willing to and did sacrifice their lives to help others. And that’s a community.”
For more information, visit cshfirehousemuseum.org or call 631-367-0400.
Above: A piece of steel from one of the World Trade Center towers Is now on display at the Cold Spring Harbor Firehouse Museum.