The Volunteer Firemen's Hall and Museum of Kingston was organized on January 18, 1980 by the seven volunteer fire companies and the Exempt Association of Kingston. The founders of the Museum were charged with the responsibility of establishing a museum to preserve and protect the many firemanic artifacts that were not being properly cared for or displayed and of establishing a meeting hall of the various volunteer fire organizations in the Kingston area that did not have a permanent home.
On March 6, 1981 a lease was signed with the City of Kingston for the Wiltwyck Fire Station. The building, build in 1857, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In August of 1981, the second floor meeting hall was opened for the use of the volunteer fire organizations.
In March of 1981, the Museum received a provisional charter from the New York State Department of Education as a not for profit corporation to operate a fire museum. A permanent charter was granted on May 24, 1985. The Museum was opened to the public on April 2, 1982.
Visit our 1857 Fire Station and let yourself drift back to the late eighteen hundreds as you view the old meeting hall of the Wiltwyck Hose Company. The parlor is furnished with chairs and sofas of black walnut, upholstered with leather. The furniture is ornately decorated with hand carve trim. You can see the company's initials on each piece. There is also a working player piano. Almost all fire company parlors had a piano for entertainment. You will also see antique pictures of the members as well as other pieces of memorabilia often found in the parlor of a volunteer fire company. This facility contains the lore of one of the most romantic and colorful eras of American history.
Kingston's Fire Department can trace its origin back to 1754 when a fire engine was ordered form England at a cost not to exceed eighty pounds. It was not until the spring of 1757 that the crude engine was received. The fire engine did its job well until, on October 16, 1777, it was consumed by fire when British soldiers burned the village of Kingston.
As you tour the Museum you will find a collection of old prints, books and documents bearing testimony to the Valor of the "Vamps" as the earliest firefighters in this nation were called. In addition to a working fire alarm system the Museum also houses a parade carriage, several motorized apparatus, an extensive collection of fire convention badges dating back to the 1800;s and a collection of souvenir mugs.
The Museum is located one block from the New York Senate House and Museum. Admission is FREE. The Museum is open the first weekend in April thru the last weekend in October. April thru October Fridays 11am-3pm, Saturdays 10am-4pm. June thru August Wednesdays, Thursdays & Fridays 11am-3pm, Saturdays 10am-4pm.