By Anna Skinner
For a Westfield citizen to learn more about the city’s history, they just have to step into the Westfield Washington Historical Society to get the information. However, the society is making the historical learning process easier by setting up window displays with viewing from the street.
Currently, a display case appreciating the Westfield firefighters past and present is set up.
The society’s current home was previously known as Westfield’s volunteer fire station, and Diana Peyton, secretary, said the display is very close to the staff’s hearts.
“I worked for the city for 20 years, and the fire department is very near and dear to our hearts, and for us to be in this building is just really, really special,” she said. “They volunteer a lot, they do a lot for the community and they save lives. They’re just a bunch of very good guys.”
The firefighter artifacts were mostly donated by Gary Sutherland, a retired firefighter. The firefighter display is the WWHS’s second window display. The historical society began their display project by competing for the Merchant Light Competition, which was a light display for Westfield in Lights during Christmastime. WWHS won the competition and received a plaque for its efforts.
“We are going to use displays up front every three months. We started with Westfield in Lights in the window, and it turned out so well that the group decided they would continue to use the display,” said Jim Peyton, the society’s past president. “Every three months, we are going to have a new one. The second one we decided to do was to honor the fire department.”
The society also chose the fire department display in hopes of convincing the city to include the old fire station in the Grand Junction revitalization plan.
“All my boys were volunteer firefighters here from their high school days on and stayed until they became paid firemen,” said Steve Osborne, the society’s current president. “What really hurts is the fact that this building has been a part of the town for the last nearly 100 years, and it’s not part of the expanded new downtown Westfield. I think it ought to be saved somehow.”
The next display the group has planned will be to honor the 2016 high school graduates and will include items from the school system’s history such as letter jackets and yearbooks.
“I think the window displays will give the citizens something to be proud of when they go up to look at it and learn a lot,” Jim said. “We will keep coming up with ideas, and they can go and look at it as a window to the past, or it can be a window to the future.”
The society has also pitched ideas for showing Westfield’s modern progressions, such as maps of Grand Park.
“We just like it to be a resource for the community, and we are deep into history here with the Underground Railroad, and hopefully the citizens go by the display and enjoy it,” Diana said. “This is our history. This belongs to the city of Westfield, and that’s part of our strategic plan, to restore and keep the history and protect the history of Westfield.”
In the Display: Gary Sutherland donated many of the items currently displayed. The items include old fire extinguishers, toy fire trucks, turnout gear, axes, current staff list of the Westfield firefighters, helmets, toy Dalmatians and more.
Where to see it: 145 S. Union St. The display window will be lit at night.
Hours: The museum is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays for those who want to see the interior.