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For more than 100 years, firefighting was the responsibility of every neighborhood and citizen. The city’s fire companies fervently believed that fighting fire was a community responsibility, best performed by virtuous and heroic men. Paid fireman finally replaced volunteers in 1871, signaling a change in beliefs about public service. The Mercer Museum’s engaging exhibition will include more than 175 historical firefighting artifacts including tools, colorful parade regalia, apparel, artwork, photographs, fire engines and fire equipment, and other unique items from…

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For documentation, investigation and training purposes, volunteer and professional fire departments often employ photographers to record the visual details of a fire scene.  Larry Browne, a volunteer with Doylestown Fire Company No. 1, has been “shooting fire” for nearly three decades.  He is also a former Pennsylvania state fire instructor and photojournalist, and teaches classes in fire scene photography at the Bucks County Public Safety Training Center.  Join Larry for an interesting visual exploration of the role of fire scene…

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The Central Court of the museum comes alive as a community of artists—musicians, storytellers and poets—perform stories, movement and music that illuminate the world of Henry Mercer. In the midst of Mercer’s “castaways” – his collection of pre-industrial tools – these artists reflect upon the American experience. Included are stories of early tools and one-room schools, of farm life and craftsmanship, and of competition between man and machine. Please join us for this entertaining evening of tales and music inspired…

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Join the Friends of the Bucks County Historical Society for this program featuring the work of Karl and Mary Jo Gimber, a skilled rug-hooking design and craft team from Bucks County.  Their colorful hooked rugs are often based on authentic historical designs of 18th- and 19th-century tavern and trade signs.  Free and open to the public.

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Fire companies from around Bucks County and the nearby Delaware Valley showcase their pre-1960 hand-drawn, horse-drawn and motorized fire engines at this free outdoor event at the Mercer Museum (regular admission applies to the museum itself).  Participating fire companies will display thirty to forty pieces of apparatus ranging from the early 1800s to the 1950s.  Some of the apparatus on display are: A 1812 hand-drawn pumper(Newton Fire Assoc),  1847 hose carriage (Croydon Fire Co.), 1901 Rumsey Ladder (Quakertown 17), a…

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Mercer Museum

Firefighter Finger Puppets

Category:
Youth

Visit the Mercer Museum’s Firefighting exhibit and learn more about the history of volunteer firefighting in the Philadelphia region, then make a set of firefighter finger puppets and create your own story or puppet show.  Drop-in craft, included in museum admission.  

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Archaeologist Thomas Kutys describes recent excavations under I-95 in the Fishtown and Kensington sections of Philadelphia, and some of the firefighting-related artifacts that have been uncovered.  He also discusses his research into the volunteer fire companies that served these neighborhoods in the 1800s, such as the Kensington Engine and Kensington Hose Companies.   Included in museum admission (free to members). This program has been cancelled.

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Mercer Museum

Firefighter Finger Puppets

Category:
Youth

Visit the Mercer Museum’s Firefighting exhibit and learn more about the history of volunteer firefighting in the Philadelphia region, then make a set of firefighter finger puppets and create your own story or puppet show.  Drop-in craft, included in museum admission.

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Mercer Museum

An Evening of Firefighting Memories

Category:
Adult, Youth

Join “old-timer” firefighters, and others, for a round-table program, remembering some of Bucks County’s volunteer firefighting history. Anyone interested in local history, or with memories to share, is invited to attend.  Bring a story, a photo, or an artifact related to our region’s firefighting history, or other emergency services, and join in the conversation.  Panelists, with many years of service as local fire-fighters, include: Dave Cass (Warminster Fire Company), Don Anderson (Cornwells Fire Company and Union Fire Company, Bensalem), Dick…

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Carol Wojtowicz Smith, curator and archivist of the Philadelphia Contributionship, America’s oldest property insurance company, describes the relationship between Philadelphia’s volunteer fire companies and the insurance industry in the city, including the role of “fire marks.” Included with museum admission.

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