Location #1: Former Emerald Hose Company at 45 Central Avenue, Cortland, NY
Until the formation of the Water Witch Hose & Fire Company in 1854, citizens of Cortland had been forced to protect themselves, with nothing more than buckets, from the frightening infernos that often devoured their timber buildings, barns, and homes. The “Little Witch” as the new engine was christened, and its crew worked diligently to keep Cortland safe from flame. Alas, the tragic burning of the Eagle Hotel in 1862 proved that the little engine would require backup. In 1878, the Emerald Hose Company joined the team and quickly became the department’s gem. The Emerald Hose Co. would go on to win championships at both state and national fire competitions!
Don’t forget to look up while standing in front of the former Emerald Hose Company. The building has been remodeled since the 1920s, but you can still find mid-1880s terra cotta firefighting themes throughout the structure.
- Church Street –a baby, swaddled in cloth, sitting in a tree waiting to be rescued. A pair of fountains decorated with flowers and eagles dispense water to keep the fire at bay.
- Central Avenue – the head of Mercury, God of swiftness to a fire, and a lion’s head, which is the astrological fire sign and symbol of courage.
Location #2: Cortland Fire Department at 22 Court Street, Cortland, NY
As Cortland grew, it became apparent that the growing fire and hose companies would need a permanent home. The Water Witch Steamer, the Orris Hose Company, the Emerald Hose Company, the Hitchcock Hose Company, and the Excelsior Hook & Ladder Company would raise funds to build one of the most spectacular firehouses in history.
In 1914, in the heart of downtown Cortland, the new fire station was completed. Designed by Sackett & Park of Syracuse, the three-story Dutch-styled building is a sight to behold. Built with vibrant yellow brick, trimmed with dark stone belts, crowned with stepped gables, and a clay tiled roof, this beautiful building was an obvious selection for the national historic registry.
From this three-bay building, the Cortland Fire Department has faithfully protected its citizens for over 100 years. The Normal School Fire and historic Clock Tower fire were fought by brave men and women who called it their second-story home. More than just stunning architecture, the Cortland Fire Headquarters are a tremendous piece of evolving Cortland County History.
1. “The History of the City of Cortland Fire Department: Rooted in Tradition.” CortlandFire, cortlandfire.org/pages/cfd-history. accessed April 9 2020.
2. Levy, Steven S. Cortland Fire Headquarters: National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Nomination Form. Albany, NY. 1974.
3. Historical Society, Cortland County and Stefano Alonzi on behalf of Cortland County Historical Society. “Cortland Fire Headquarters.” Clio: Your Guide to History. April 14, 2020. Accessed September 6, 2022. https://www.theclio.com/entry/98656
4. Hession, Kaitlyn. “Look up, Cortland!” Cortland Voice, 20 Oct. 2019, https://cortlandvoice.com/2019/10/20/look-up-cortland/. Accessed 6 Sept. 2022.