MHS awarded grant to preserve fire engine

MANCHESTER - The Manchester Historical Society is preserving a unique, over 100-year-old, four-person hand-pumper fire engine as a piece of utilitarian folk art.

Known as "Little Eli," the hand-pumper was used in Manchester in the 1890s. With its unique folk art, this Manchester treasure is one of the rarest pieces of hand drawn fire apparatuses in the U.S. The Manchester Historical Society will preserve and interpret the apparatus, thanks in part to a $4,400 Implementation Grant from the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership.

The MHS application was supplemented by a letter of support from the Shires of Vermont Byway. MHS President Dick Smith commented, "MHS is truly grateful for this generous grant and proud to be one of three Bennington County recipients. Bennington Museum and The American Museum of Fly Fishing were also recognized with awards from CVNHP."

The preservation is being completed by Andy Swift at Firefly Restorations Company in Hope, ME. FRC's specialty is fire engines. The preservation work has already begun and will be completed by December 31, 2013. The project will include interpretive signs explaining the pumper's artistry and history. The Manchester Historical Society will also develop handouts about the fire engine, its history and its preservation. Background information about the hand pumper, its origins and its use locally is being compiled for publication upon completion of the preservation.

If anyone has any background information on Little Eli, please contact the Manchester Historical Society at, call 802-362-4314 or email rbsbus@ If you would like to donate to support this preservation and display effort, the Manchester Historical Society is accepting donations targeted to this project.


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