ALLENDALE, Mich. (May 13, 2014) — Originally built in Grand Rapids on the corner of Leonard and Monroe in 1880, the old clock tower firehouse museum has had a new home in Allendale since the mid 1980s. The structure was removed brick by brick in the early 1980s and moved along M45 just up the road from Grand Valley State University.
It was the brainchild of Jeff Dupilka. “We took it down in 1980 on its 100th birthday and moved it here. Stored it for a short time and then began the process a year or so later of putting it back together on this site. Finished it sometime around 1985,” Jeff says.
Dupilka has always been a firefighter at heart. Since the ripe age of eight when he use to pass a fire station each day on his way to school, he grew to love and respect the men and department in red. An Allendale firefighter and business owner himself, Jeff heard that the old Grand Rapids station was about to be struck by the wrecking ball, so he jumped in to action with a group of friends to save it. Once the building was successfully moved and erected, it was time to outfit the inside with his other love…collecting vintage fire trucks, gear, and memorabilia.
After visiting Engine House Number Five in Allendale, the highlight of the museum inside has to be the vintage trucks, equipment, and early turn of the century apparatus. Horse drawn carriages, hand water pumpers, leather buckets, leather helmets, steam engines, and trumpets (used like a megaphone these days) outfit both floors of this museum. These fire trucks are truly something that would be seen at the Henry Ford Museum in Greenfield Village in pristine condition.
There’s also a vintage photo wall documenting fire runs and some history throughout the decades around the area. And how about three brass fire poles where firefighters would jump out of bed and slide down the poles to get to the truck? Jeff is truly a kid at heart when it comes to anything fire related. He knows his stuff, is a collector of most of it, and is very well-informed about every piece and artifact in Engine House Number Five.
If you or anyone in your family was ever a firefighter, or you have children that love the whole firefighter thing, this place is a must! Make sure to visit their website here for more information or to arrange a tour. Find their Facebook page here. They work on donations to help keep the doors open!
One more thing, inside the firehouse is a small business called Hammer and Thread. It’s an artisan shop that features all handmade products like soaps, jewelry, and clothes. Click here for their website. The actual address of the Firehouse and Museum is 6620 Lake Michigan Drive in Allendale.