Before offices of the Board of Education moved there in the early 1980s, Putnam Avenue School had served Whitneyville's elementary school kids since it opened in 1915.
Late last month, former Putnam Avenue principal Andrew L. Pellico donated this bell, pictured at right, to the fire department with hopes that it someday would be included in a department museum.
"This bell was donated to me," wrote Mr. Pellico, "by Miss Elvira Holm, who was principal of Putnam Avenue School prior to her retirement in 1961. She entrusted me with this relic explaining that it served as a fire alarm back in the early part of the 1900s.
"The Putnam Avenue School was built in 1915 and during those early years the principal would walk the halls ringing the bell signaling a fire drill. Once all the children were safely outside, it would be rung again to announce the recall to classes. With the advent of more modern signaling devices, the bell was retired!"
Mr. Pellico continued, "For many years I used it as a paper weight and fear that its historical significance may be lost if I don't act! I'm 91 years of age. Therefore, I have chosen to entrust a slice of history to your department. Certainly there is a connection!
"It is my hope that you will have it in an appropriate receptacle with a simple plaque which reads as follows: 'Putnam Avenue School, FIRE BELL, Circa 1918.'"
Andrew L. Pellico
Principal - Putnam Avenue School
Thank you, Mr. Pellico, for helping to preserve this wonderful relic from your (and our) past.
(All photos courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society.)
A fire of unknown cause destroyed Whitneyville's Country Club Pharmacy in the early morning hours of Lincoln's Birthday 1953. This was eighteen years before that holiday, combined with that of Washington's Birthday, became a generic observance on the third Monday of February to honor all U.S. presidents.
According to newspaper accounts of the day, Hamden police Officer Henry Ormstedt on the Whitneyville beat reported hearing thumping sounds, which he initially thought were coming from the Cedar Hill railroad yards off State Street. Upon further investigation, Officer Ormstedt heard funny sounds coming from within the store. When he saw owner Nathan Hammerman run from the premises, Officer Ormstedt pulled the fire alarm box on the opposite corner of Whitney and Putnam, which summoned apparatus from Putnam Avenue, Merritt Street and Headquarters. Eventually, almost all of Hamden's on and off-duty department personnel responded, two of whom receiving minor injuries.
In 1910, it was the site of a horse barn where the Whitneyville Volunteer Fire Association was organized.
Check out several news photos as well as New Haven Evening Register and Hamden Chronicle articles by clicking on the above news photo.
Members of Guilford's F.C. Spencer Hook & Ladder Co. 1 manning their early 1940s Mack city service ladder truck are pictured here in Plainville at the 1953 Connecticut Firemen's Association Convention parade.