From the April 26, 1957 edition of the Gazette:

At a special town meeting last night attended by slightly more than forty voters, the town of Chilmark voted to build a new fire house to cost $11,500, $7,500 of which will be taken from surplus revenue and the remaining $4,000 raised and appropriated by taxation. The building is to be 36 by 44 feet, to accommodate two pieces of apparatus, provide working space, with a separate room for the heating unit, accessible only from the outside, and the building to contain meeting space. The foundations are to be of poured concrete, walls of concrete blocks painted and stuccoed, with steel frames and double thick glass in the windows, and overhead doors.

A steel stairway will lead to the attic space and an electrically heated hose-drying cabinet will be a part of the equipment.

The location of this new building was not specified in the motion, and the moderator, Benjamin C. Mayhew Jr., told the meeting that the action might not be legal, but that is the way the meeting wanted it.

Seven motions under the article were voted down before a favorable vote was taken.

If any conclusion can be made as to the sentiment of the meeting, it is that a number of those present did not want to borrow money. The borrowing clause was the stumbling block in most case because it requires a two-thirds vote to borrow, and the majority was not sufficient. But the favorable vote, requiring no borrowing, was Yes, 42, and No, 14.

It was the best-natured town meeting imaginable. Everyone was in a friendly mood, but from Yankee stubbornness or reluctance to borrow, the meeting used up close to two and a half hours in debate and in voting down motions.

The town clerk, Eugene Damon, who was clerk of the fire department committee, read the report of the committee, and the requirements of the New England Fire Insurance Rating Association as regards fire houses, equipment and the organization of a fire department, either paid or volunteer. Briefly, the recommendations were that the present building be sold to be moved, a minimum figure of $2,500 being set for the sale.

It was recommended that a new building be constructed on the site of the present one.

The motion for favorable action on these recommendations was made by Onslow S. Robinson, chairman of the committee. Mr. Damon had previously stated that five plans for remodeling the present building had been considered but that any one of them would cost nearly as much as the new building and would not result in anything quite so satisfactory.

Discussion opened following Mr. Robinson’s motion. Mrs. Clifton Parker did not want to dispose of the present building. She opined that some use could be found for it, and she did not favor selling it at a loss. Mrs. Ralph Tilton also favored keeping the present building, but rather remodeled to meet the needs of the fire department.

Albert O. Fischer Jr., chief of the fire department, reminded the meeting that $9,000 for remodeling the present building had been asked at the annual town meeting.

It was moved by D. Herbert Flanders that the vote be taken by paper ballot, and the result was Yes, 19, No, 23.

The moderator ruled that so long as no vote was taken definitely disposing of the article, new motions might be made.

The next motion was from the fire chief, to move the present building, and to construct a new one. Mrs. William Seward added an amendment that $6,500 be raised by notes, of one, two, and three years maturing periods. The motion was lost.

Mrs. Parker then moved for a new building on another location including an appropriation of $1,500 with $6,500 to be borrowed. Mr. Fischer asked, “Do you object to an amendment that would add $200 for the expense of the committee?”

“I don’t think I object to anything,” she replied, “except moving the preset building.”

The motion was lost by two votes, this number short of the two-thirds required.

D. Herbert Flanders then moved to table the article but the meeting voted No.

Mrs. Seward asked why some people were opposed to the new building.

“This is a free country,” said Mrs. Walter Jenkinson Sr., “and I don’t think we are required to give a reason.”

“If we keep the present building,” said Everett Poole, “it means just one more to maintain. If we are to build a new one, we ought to get rid of the old one.”

“Will someone please make a simple motion?” pleaded the moderator, who was visibly sweating although still managing a smile.

It was Mrs. Seward who apparently caught the drift of opinion, the reluctance to borrow, and voicing this belief, she asked how much money there was in the surplus revenue account, how much could be voted, and, obtaining all the information, framed the motion which was approved.

Compiled by Hilary Wall