A Brief History of the Mount Ida Neighborhood - Quality of Life

[Figure 16]  Not surprisingly, the creation of a fire company predated every other public service on Mount Ida.  Citizens constructed a firehouse on the south side of Congress Street in 1839, forming the Lafayette Engine Company, Number 10.*  Through the singular generosity of Franklin W. Farnam, the company purchased a modern steam fire engine in 1871, and the department’s name was concurrently changed to the Franklin W. Farnam Steam Engine Company, No. 5.**  Farnam’s own Excelsior Knitting Mills, on the Poesten Kill to the east side of the Pawling Avenue Bridge, were within the company’s boundaries.  He once again made a major gift to the company when he built its new headquarters on the same site in 1876, and he once again purchased a state-of-the-art steamer from the Button Fire Engine Company of Waterford in 1885.  The department had a long history of close community involvement that saw many of the neighborhood’s leading citizens take part in the brigade.  William M. Peckham, for example was the unpaid captain of the Farnam Company for 1878-1879.  His father (quite aptly) was co-owner of the Manning and Peckham Paper Mill at the foot of Cypress Street, so his participation was at least pragmatic.*** 

The company was dissolved and the building at the corner of Congress and Pawling razed when the Spring Avenue Station opened in 1973.****[Figure 17] Religion was usually an important element of daily life, yet churches were slow to warm to the idea of permanent structures on the hill.  Mount Ida was considered mission territory by most all major Christian denominations until at least 1866. 

Weise, Troy’s One Hundred Years, 359.

Weise, Troy’s One Hundred Years, 362.

The Troy Directory for the Year 1879 (Troy, NY: Sampson, Davenport and Company, 1879), 144, 359.

Thomas Phelan Papers, Box 9, Folder 30.  Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Archives.

 

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