A historic landmark that helped put Slatington on the map is set to reach the century mark.
Slatington Hose Company No. 1 has announced that the Firemen's Statue/Drinking Fountain located in the 500 block of Main Street will be rededicated and unveiled with a ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 11 at 1 p.m. as part of the statue's 100th anniversary celebration. In addition, a 9/11-memorial ceremony will be held in conjunction with the statue rededication.
A number of local fire companies, clergy, and dignitaries will be on hand to participate in the ceremony, said Robert Stettner, publicity chairman, 100th anniversary committee. Also in attendance will be members of the 1980 statue restoration committee, who helped restore the statue and fountain after it was damaged by a hit-and-run driver in the fall of 1979, Stettner said.
The statue's plight gained local and regional media attention, and donations poured in from surrounding areas to help refurbish the fallen statue, he said. The statue and fountain were later rededicated in July of 1980 with a large parade and ceremony, Stettner said.
Stettner said a desire to bring back a public drinking fountain to the center of town led to the erection of a firemen statue/drinking fountain. In the 1850s, a drinking trough was located in the center of town, but was abandoned shortly after the borough's incorporation in 1864, he said. The fountain was to serve a three-fold purpose: as a drinking source for man, horses and dogs, Stettner said.
Local historians surmise that out of jealousy for their sister station, Vigilant Fire Company No. 2, which had recently erected its own firemen's monument in nearby Union Cemetery, a decision was made to attach a firemen statue to the top of the fountain, Stettner said.
The fountain was manufactured from the E.T. Barnum Company of Detroit Michigan. The J.W. Fiske Company of New York manufactured the firemen statue.
Most firemen statues are memorials to the deceased. Hose Company #1's firemen statue is dedicated to living firemen everywhere, and it is a symbol of service, vigilance and humanity.
The Firemen's Statue/Drinking Fountain is one of only two firemen statues in the Lehigh Valley, with the other one also located in Slatington. Collectively, they are part of only a handful found in Pennsylvania.
In fact, Stettner said Slatington may be the only community in the United States with two firemen statue/monuments (erected by different / "competing" fire companies) in the same town.
Hose Company #1's Firemen's Statue has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1981, and has been registered with the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture since 2002.
Erected in 1910, and dedicated on April 10 of that year, the firemen's monument is a fine example of early 20th century firemen statuary made of zinc, Stettner said.
During the late-19th and early-20th century, firemen statues and monuments began being erected in town squares and in cemeteries to honor firemen who died in the line of duty. The three predominant types were made of stone, often granite or marble, zinc, and stamped sheet metal.
The statues usually either depicted firemen holding a hose in the act of fighting a fire, or holding a child in the act of saving their life.
While these statues and monuments are located all across the country, they are found predominantly in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and Mid-Western regions of the United States. The number of firemen statue/monuments nationwide is estimated at around 200.
In the event of heavy rain the ceremony will be held at the Slatington Moose Lodge, 716 Main Street.
For more information, or directions, contact Stettner at (610) 554-4099, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.