Greater Lawrence Technical School donates restored Fire Alarm #615 to LHC



Today, the Lawrence History Center received a magnificent gift from the students at the Greater Lawrence Technical School (GLTS). The students at GLTS, led by teacher Mr. Hatem in the Auto Body Department, have not only restored Fire Box #615, but delivered it to us in person this morning! Students from Auto Body conducted the restoration work, other students did background research and wrote up the process from start to finish (below), and a student photographer came along when delivering the finished product to us in order to further document the project.

We continue to be impressed by the the interdisciplinary approach that GLTS takes with their students, as well as, with student engagement and enthusiasm. Our sincerest thanks go to Mr. Hatem and the the students at GLTS for their hard work and dedication and to LHC volunteer, Gene McCarthy, for the role he played in securing this donation. We are proud to have Fire Alarm 615 in our front lobby, along with a small steam engine they restored back in 2011. And as the story (below) and images reveal, it needed quite a bit of work!

Well done and thank you, GLTS!

Fire Alarm Restoration #615
This report was respectfully submitted by GLTS students, Jaleesa M. and Alexis R.

This is a 1920's Gamewell fire box number 615 stationed somewhere in Lawrence, standing at the height of 5 feet 4 inches. Mr. Hatem, an Auto Body instructor from GLTS, found

the call box in a scrap pile and brought it to the school as a restoration project for the Auto Body students. A fire call box is a roadside telegraph used to report emergencies, such as fires and accidents. The box was in such a condition that it needed a complete restoration; the pull door and trigger mechanism were missing, the top was broke, the clock mechanism needed to be cleaned, there was a cable box door missing, and it had been painted with a brush to the point where it needed to be stripped completely.

The first step was to repair the clock mechanism. For this we requested help and parts from the City of Lawrence's Fire Alarm Division. After receiving advice and a few minor repairs, we were able to get the mechanism working. Secondly, we had our Metal Fab Department recreate the missing cable box door. Mr. Hatem had two of the junior students, Shane D. and Anthony F., spend approximately one week with the sandblaster to remove the old paint. As for the other missing parts, we requested help from Harold Roeder from L.W. Bills Company in Georgetown, MA. Mr. Roeder not only owns a private fire alarm company, he has a museum and restored numerous fire alarms to pristine condition. Mr. Roeder was generous enough to donate the missing pull down door and trigger mechanism for our restoration. Shane and Anthony primed and painted the red and silver colors on our fire alarm. In addition, Anthony hand traced all the letters on the alarm.

It took Anthony and Shane about 2 months to repair the fire alarm call box. This fire alarm call box is being turned over to the Lawrence History Center on October 17, 2013, donated by Mr. Hatem and the students. After the fire alarm was restored completely, the students decided that this fire box should be in a museum because it is a big part of Lawrence's history and the teachers agreed. Mr. Hatem contacted the Lawrence History Center, who sent representative Eugene McCarthy to evaluate this unit for their museum. After looking at it, Mr. McCarthy said that they would love to have it in their Center. It is an honor for the students and the teachers to be able to have their hard work discplacyed in such a place as the Lawrence History Center.

Staff and Students from Greater Lawrence Technical School


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Founded in 1978 as the Immigrant City Archives, the mission of the Lawrence History Center is to collect, preserve, share, and animate the history and heritage of Lawrence and its people.