Construction crews work on 2 Chester firehouses

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

At either end of Elm Street in Chester, construction crews have been working on fire houses: one from the past and one for the future.

Steel is going up at the site of Chester’s Public Safety Building as crews work ahead of winter weather. Photos by Shawn Cunningham

On Route 103, just north of Elm Street, Wright Construction was installing a beam above the doors on the south end of the 1870s Yosemite Firehouse. At the same time at the other end of Elm and a bit south, Russell Construction was hurrying to raise the steel structure of the new Public Safety Building and close it in before the snow flies in earnest.

Ed Poro of Russell told The Telegraph that the company hopes to get the pad poured before winter but, if not, the builders could heat the inside of the building and pour afterward. On Nov. 17, workers were getting the plumbing roughed in and beginning work on electrical feeds, with the steel structure expected to be up two weeks.

Poro noted that Mulholland Welding and Fabrication just down the street in the Gold River Industrial Park was fabricating the steel for the project.

The project was a long time in coming with previous iterations going down to defeat on bond votes. But in November 2019 voters approved a $4.777 million bond to construct the combination fire, police and ambulance building and rehabilitate the town garage which have housed the fire and ambulance services for many years.

Stabilizing a landmark

Samantha Vertefeuille checks a measurement while her father Steve looks on and others prepare the steel header for installation.

At the same time a Wright crew led by Steve Vertefeuille was continuing to work on straightening the historic Yosemite building.

“There was no header in this building at all,” said Vertefeuille. “So we jacked the building up so the floor is level up  inside and we are going put a new beam in, sheath it and remount the doors.” Vertefeuille noted that they would need to put up a new rail for the rolling doors, but that the old doors would be returned to the building.

“The header, the opening and the doors will be plumb,” said Vertefeuille, but the building has racked that won’t be addressed now. “The top is pretty straight but the middle is out.”

The racking of the firehouse to the right is visible in its windows and the wall on the river side in this photo before installation of the steel beam.

The firehouse was built in the 1870s. The land under the firehouse was given to Fire District No. 2 — which covered the Depot and the Stone Village — and was used by that district until the mid-20th century. In 2019, the Chester Select Board approved its use as a museum but is taking an incremental approach to the project by stabilizing the building structurally and fixing things like windows and doors before moving forward. Last year, a crew righted the addition on the back of the building and added new support piers.

The firehouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 16, 2020.

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