If big things really do come in small packages, then the Seguin Fire Museum is a treasure indeed. The building, which sits next to Fire Station #3 near the 123 Bypass and Kingsbury Street, may look small but it’s big in history—more than 100 years of it.
“It’s a good thing we keep everything,” says Seguin Fire Chief Dale Skinner.
The photos, documents and equipment saved over the years not only ensured the Fire Department’s history would be preserved, but also saved them from losing one of their most treasured items: a rare Wichita fire truck from 1912. The truck had been on loan to a museum for an exhibit when suddenly they closed their doors and thought the antique was theirs. Luckily, the Department still had the original paperwork proving the Wichita was a loan—not a gift.
In fact, antique fire trucks—all originals to the Fire Department—are just one of the many interesting exhibits at the little museum. In addition to the Wichita, there is a pair of pumpers dating back to 1916, the Department’s first motorized fire truck and the second from 1922. The 1922 truck is used in parades, having been restored with the help of donors. The other trucks are still waiting to be restored to their former glory…Skinner says they’re now raising funds for that project.
In addition to the trucks, there are other artifacts—a wealth of old photos that show how Seguin once looked along with the evolution of firefighting over time. Bits of old equipment and memorabilia are on display, too.
“Many people don’t realize that Seguin has one of the oldest departments in the State of Texas. Our history is rich and something
we feel is important to share,” Skinner says. “This museum was the vision of my predecessor, Scotty MyCue. He created it when the building, which was once used as a fire station, was gifted back to us for that purpose.”
Despite having a building and plenty of memorabilia, the Fire Department still couldn’t open the museum to the public until it was refurbished and made ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. So, it quietly sat for several years until last May, thanks to a group of volunteers from the Leadership Seguin class of 2015-2016. As part of their participation in the 9-month program sponsored by the Seguin Chamber of Commerce, they were challenged to complete a community service project. The museum was a perfect fit.
But first, they needed funds to cover remodeling costs. In just a few short weeks, the group raised nearly $30,000 through a raffle, sponsorships and a donation from the Geronimo Lions Club’s charitable First Friday Feast. Then, they rolled up their sleeves and began pulling out old showers and kitchen cabinets, replacing flooring, painting walls, installing display cases and making other repairs.
“Now we look forward to sharing our history with school classes, civic organizations and community groups,” says Skinner. “For me, this is living history, especially since we encourage visitors to touch the equipment used back then.”
For now, the museum can be seen by appointment only, since there isn’t a staff of full-time volunteers to show it. So, if your group is interested in learning more about Seguin’s fire history, call the Fire Department at 830-401-2310 to schedule a visit.