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  • Writer's pictureKala Adair

A Fiery Beginning for Clovis

I'm sure you know by now that Firehouse Workspace was originally home to the first firehouse in Clovis. It was built in 1909 and also housed City Hall. Most people think the firehouse was the section that has garage doors (that part was built in the 1930s), but what we're actually talking about is the two-story portion of the building.

It was built one block east of the commercial district (Main St.), because municipal buildings were considered utilitarian, and the thinking was that they shouldn't take up valuable commercial space. A little different than the outlook today!

The building was constructed following several big fires in Clovis (Santa Fe New Mexican actually had a repeated blurb called "Clovis Has its Weekly Fire"), and local officials were concerned about future buildings being decimated by fire, so the firehouse and city hall was constructed of double-brick walls, meaning that if you remove a brick from the exterior of the building, you will find a second one behind it. As you can see in the photo, the two sections on the right side of the building were originally the firehouse doors, also known as the apparatus room doors.

The fire department was complete and ready to go to work by September 9, 1909, although the steam fire engine fought its first fire on the day it arrived, July, 16,1909. According to a book on Clovis history at Clovis-Carver Public Library:

“The first fire department was a hose reel, pulled by a dozen or more volunteer firemen, and a hook and ladder, with a team of horses. Gus Von Elm was Fire Chief…

The fire horses were specially trained, of course. One of the first ones didn’t fill the bill, so he was sold to someone, who was farming near Clovis. One day the fire whistle blew while the farmer was plowing with the ex-fire horse. Said horse heard the whistle, broke loose from the plow, and beat the fire department to the fire.

The fire station was on Pile Street… It was quite a sight to see the harness dropped on that team of horses, and see the fire truck leave the station in a matter of seconds.”

These were exciting times in Clovis, as you can see in this article involving Fire Chief Gus Von Elm. But these were also times that would make you proud to call Clovis home. According to the Albuquerque Morning Journal, "Clovis, Curry county, has been astounding New Mexico and the southwest in the last few months, during which it has been expanding with remarkable rapidity into one of the most modern, prosperous growing little cities of the whole wild west." Read the whole article here. Trust me, it will make you feel love toward our little town.

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