Did You Know #6

By Megan Hudgins-Cunningham

At first glance, this looks like a normal, pleasant holiday scene, doesn’t it? The pictures on the wall, the stockings hanging over the fireplace… all that’s missing is a towering Christmas tree, a pile of presents for the children, and some chestnuts roasting on the open fire.

But let’s take another look, shall we?

In reality, it’s an incredibly elaborate Christmas decoration. If you look closely at the building, the street sign, and the surrounding area, you might actually recognize this spot if you’ve paid a visit to the Edgewater Historical Society recently. This building is the current home of the Historical Society’s museum, housed at 5358 N. Ashland, on the corner of Ashland and Balmoral. The photograph was taken in 1959, when the building was occupied by Engine Company #79.

Now, you may be wondering how they were able to keep those logs in the front of the building, as this would be the most likely place for the fire engine to come through. It’s a bit difficult to see in the picture, but the decorations at the front of the firehouse were kept on rollers, which allowed them to move the logs and open the door as necessary when responding to an emergency.

At the time, Chicago firehouses were all decorated for the holidays. Each firehouse would compete for the best decorations, and this wonderfully creative fireplace theme won Engine Company #79 first prize for that year by unanimous vote.

[For more information, click here to read a 1996 Scrapbook article about EHS’s acquisition of the firehouse. The Museum opened in 2002.]