History of the start of the Hope Volunteer Fire Department
(Presented during the dedication of the new Fire House Dec. 5, 2009)

By William P. Pearse Sr.
Dec 08, 2009

The Hope Volunteer Fire Department was started in July 1951 after Everett Hobb's barn burned.

My father, Ralph, my brother John and I were getting in hay when Dad looked up in the sky and saw the smoke, and said that Everett Hobbs' place was on fire. We put the horses away and went. When we got there, there was nothing we could do as all we had was Indian Pumps but no water. Soon fire engines form Camden and Lincolnville arrived and were able to save the house.

Soon thereafter, Robert Wright came around and discussed about getting a fire department started. Our first meeting was held at Clifford Robbins' residence with nine people attending. Those that attended became the Charter Members and were Fred W. Brownell, Frank Grassow, Earl R. Norwood, Guilford Payson, Earl L. Pearse, Clifton H. Robbins, John Salisbury, Robert Wright, and myself, William P. Pearse.

Our next meeting was held at the Hope School here in Hope Corner. At the second meeting we elected officers, with Robert Wright elected chief; Earl Pearse, assistant chief; Clifton Robbins, treasurer, and Ralph Wentworth, secretary.

At this meeting, papers were drawn up to borrow $1,800 from Camden National Bank in order to build Hope's first fire truck. Each charter member also contributed $50 a piece and signed the note with the bank.

The first fire truck was a used Ford purchased from John Pottle. Burt Eugley built the fire engine and it included a pump, water tank, hose reel and 250 feet of hose.

That fall and winter the engine was housed in various barns throughout the town. Robert Wright and others had the task of trying to keep the unit from freezing.

In April of 1952 the Hope Volunteer Fire Department had its first call. The blueberry field on Barnestown Road at the Camden-Hope town line got out of control and the call went out to Hope.

Raymond Ludwig was driving the engine with Neal Libby running the siren. My brother John and I heard about the call and grabbed our Indian tanks and waited by the side of the road for the engine. As it went by, we jumped on. Now, as you all know, Barnestown Road has recently been repaved and is extremely smooth and you just glide along for a comfortable ride. Back in 1952, that was not the case. At one point, I wondered might we reach the fire quicker if we got off and walked?

It being cold and wet for that time of year, the fire didn't spread very far and we extinguished it quite quickly.

In May of 1952, Ralph Wentworth allowed for the Hope Volunteer Fire Department the use of a piece of land to construct a fire station here in Hope Corner.

The members of the fire department got together to construct the fire house.

Earl Ludwig with his power shovel loaded gravel from Virgil Mank's gravel pit into the trucks of Earl Pearse, Frank Grassow, Earl Norward and Nate Pease Sr., who then hauled it to the site where I used my bulldozer and leveled off creating the base.

Then, in one day, we built the fire station. Lumber was donated by various individuals as Aubrey Pearse cut the lumber to length, and the rest of us were able to frame the building, board up the side and get the roof shingled in that single day.

As years passed, the fire department, still a private organization, was in need of raising funds. One source of funding came from the efforts of Ruth Pearse and Jane McGrath, who started the Hope Firemen's Frolic, which included a parade, chicken barbecue and numerous other activities. Another source of raising funds was public suppers. These all were quite successful.

Various individuals headed up these events over the years and some of those individuals were Joy Pearse, Margaret Wright, Ruth Payson, Evelyn Ludwig, Marie Berry, Gwen Brodis, Irene Landers, Ruth Derosier, Faith Hart, Ann Leadbetter, Francina Pearse and Margaret Morse and I'm sure many others helped along the way, too.

Later on, Fred Holbrook built a hot dog stand that was used at the Hope Frolic and also at the Union Fair where firemen, their families and others volunteers worked to raise funds for the fire department.

As time went along the fire department upgraded their engines and it became apparent that there was a need for a brush truck. So an engine was purchased, but we had no where to house the unit. So an addition was added to the station.

Again a work bee was put together to construct the addition. I was working on the roof on the shingling the rake edge, and got a little behind. In my effort to get caught up I laid a shingle wrong side up. I soon realized my mistake, but had already laid another course of shingle so I hollered down to Fred Holbrook, "Fred, what should we do about this?"

Fred's response was "well William why don't we just leave it and that way we'll have something to remember you by."

This station is quite a remarkable building and many thanks to the Bresnahans for donating the land. Many thanks to those who donated m


Hope news
By Francina Pearse | Dec 30, 2010

As there does not seem to be much going on I was at a loss on what to write for you faithful readers. Then I was lugging my 1975 Hope cook book. I have used this cook book a lot especially Peggy Ludwig's molded salad. Well anyway I had the cook book in my hand taking it to the bread box (I have to put it in there as it is in such terrible condition). Well it fell of my hand and went on to the floor in pieces. So what do I do now? I was trying to put it together and came across the page with a write up about the History of the Hope Volunteer Fire Department. So the following is what it said.

On these pages we relate the progress of the Hope Volunteer Fire Department. In 1952 after a fire that destroyed the barn and partially burned the home of E. N. Hobbs on the western side of Hope Corner scattering burning shingles over the entire village. Hope citizens became aware of a need to organize a fire department.

Sept. 15 a meeting was called. Robert Wright was appointed fire chief, Earl Pearse, assistant chief and Clifton Robbins as secretary. Directors included the above plus John Salisbury, Earl Norwood, Frederick Brownell, William Pearse, Guilford Payson and Frank Grass. They voted to purchase land for a station and maintain a fire department in accordance with the Revised Statutes of the State of Maine.

Their first equipment was housed in the former True's factory until a station could be erected. A Firemen's Ball, public suppers, donations of money, material and labor from many interested people who wanted to see Hope have an active fire department made it possible to have a heated station, tank truck and four Indian pumps during the first year.

In 1962 the town began raising funds to assist the department and the women organized an auxiliary known as the Firemen's Flames. They planned a fund raising project called the Firemen's Frolic held the Saturday before July 4 each year. This required hours of labor from men, women and friends but adds substantially to the department's funds from the net average of $466 a year for the first three years to $2,587 per year for the past three years. By the late 1960s, the department had five phones, joined the Knox County Mutual Aid Association. purchased equipment to meet requirements and were holding regular drills with other departments.

The present fire chief is Wayne Berry, assistant chief Warren Pendleton, second assistant chief Warren Pendleton and William Pearse is secretary/treasurer and many volunteer firemen.

In 1973, men at South Hope organized to have a substation in that section of the town with Bruce Leach, assistant chief, Lewis Merrifield, second assistant and Dana Winchenbach, secretary and treasurer. With assistance from the town, existing department, donations and their own efforts to earn money they have purchased a building and now have truck number three and other equipment at the substation. The women have formed an auxiliary and are working enthusiastically to raise money to benefit the substation.

If space permitted much could be said in praise for the assistance the department has received from Hope citizens, non-residents, surrounding fire departments, other organizations and patronizing public.

The tried and tested recipes in this book are contributed by those wishing to help with the maintenance of the Hope Volunteer Fire Department.

In reading this I thought you might like to know how the station had changed and how it has grown. I copied the above just as it was written in the cook book.