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Friendship Grows on Trees

Anniversary of the area's first firehouse celebrated in decorations.

The 150th Anniversary of Friendship Firehouse has been commemorated in handmade tree decorations at the Vola Lawson Lobby of Alexandria City Hall.

Students at Jefferson Houston Elementary School made all the ornaments, including the tree topper depicting a colonial era firefighter. The students named their handmade decorations "Friendship" ornaments.

Visual arts teacher Melissa Long worked with students in grades two through five, to pay tribute to "George Washington's Fire Company."

"Jefferson Houston is our adopted school at the Office of Historic Alexandria," said Kris Lloyd of The Lyceum who volunteered to decorate the tree with the students' ornaments. Pam Budde, also of The Lyceum as well as Marya Fitzgerald and Ruth Reeder, both of Alexandria Archeology joined Lloyd in decorating the tree on Dec. 2.

TWO MEMBERS of the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association, William Kehoe and Mike Carter, also participated. As the association's historian, Carter created an interactive presentation to educate students about early fire fighting in Alexandria. It also introduces young students to the role of Friendship Fire Company in the colonial era.

"This is a first for us and these ornaments are very special because they are all made by the students in honor of our anniversary," Kehoe said.

Classified as one of the 12 most historic firehouses in the nation, Friendship Fire Company was organized in 1774. It moved into its present location in 1851.

The building, a two-story frame house with a steeple, was damaged by fire in March 1855. In April 1855, the company appointed a committee to petition City Council to build a two- story brick Engine House for them. They moved into their new home and held their first meeting there on Oct. 29, 1855.

The building was remodeled in 1871 and restored to its original condition in 1992. It is now home to a fire-fighting museum, which exhibits fire-fighting apparatus. The display includes hand-drawn fire engines, leather water buckets, axes, and sections of early leather hose. The museum also outlines the history of the city's first fire department.