York Town Square

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Rex/Laurel, one of four York, Pa., operating fire stations, built a dozen years after Civil War

The Rex/Laurel Fire Station stands tall against the York, Pa., sky in this photograph from “York City Fire Department, York, Pennsylvania.” The 1976 book is the most complete published compilation of York fire department histories that is available. (See two additional photos of the fire station below.) Also of interest: Cumberland County reseacher seeks info on Emigsville’s American Acme-built fire engine and Photograph of York’s worst, bad fire and All pain and trauma posts from the start.

York’s fire stations have been in the news as the city officials indicated that the newest station, the Vigilant, would receive a new ventilation system. And another proposal calls for the closure of two stations, replaced by a brand new one.
By newest station, that means 1974.
Which begs the question about which of the four stations is the oldest… .

The Rex/ Laurel, 49/51 S. Duke St. is ready for duty in this York, Pa., Daily Record/Sunday News file photo.
That’s the Rex/Laurel, hoofs down, built in the age of horses, 1878.
The Goodwill went up to accommodate horse-drawn apparatus, too, in 1903.
That leaves the post-World War II vintage Lincoln station.
Which makes one wonder if all of the stations will survive the city’s belt-tightening plans.
How can stations built in the days of horse-drawn engines accommodate the massive trucks that operate today?
Think about the Laurel, whose cornerstone was laid 12 years after the end of the Civil War.
Here’s an account of that event, from the book: “York City Fire Department, York, Pennsylvania.”

“Yesterday evening, as announced in the Daily, the corner stone of the new Laurel Engine House was laid with appropriate ceremonies. The proceedings were opened with music by Prof. Kissinger’s W.I. Band, which was followed by a very earnest and forcible prayer by the Rev. J.O. Miller, D.D. James B. Ziegler, Esq., the President of the Laurel Steam Fire Engine Company, next delivered a short, eloquent and pithy address, congratulating the company upon their deservied success and thanking the public for their confidence in, and encouragement to the company … .”

Still, there’s a terrible risk that when you close a station, that piece of history will slowly deteriorate and then face demolition.
It’s a debate that should not be rushed.
And here is basic information about the four stations from the Daily Record/Sunday News:

Station 1 The Laurel station part of the Rex/Laurel, at 49 S. Duke St., was built in 1878. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Station 2 Vigilant, at 273 W. Market St., was built in 1974.
Station 5 Goodwill, at 833 E. Market St., was built in 1903.
Station 9 Lincoln, at 800 Roosevelt Ave., was built in 1946.

York City firefighters Keith Ramsay, left, and Dave Bowman stand outside the Rex/ Laurel fire station on South Duke Street in 2003.
Also of interest:
All fire and firefighter posts from the start.

Search for York Town Square posts on Google. For example, when you search for yorktownsquare and fires, you get this.

Edited, 4/6/11.