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( Back to Pennsylvania Index )

Reading Fire Station
HauntedHouses.com

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Haunted Dwelling — Hampton Fire Station Building

ADDRESS:

607 N. 11th Street
Reading, Pennsylvania 19604

LOCATION:

The square-shaped old Hampton Fire Station building can be found taking up the whole corner lot at Eleventh Street and Greenwich Street. Both these streets are main drags through town.

MAP

Do not disturb the tenants inside.

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DESCRIPTION/HISTORY:

This massive, glorious turn-of-the-century brick Victorian, 2 story structure is both beautiful and built to last centuries. It is not surprising then, it is now being used as apartments, as the fire station that was once located here, was probably moved to a better, more modern building, or was consolidated into another Reading fire station. According to the reference book I used for this story, HAUNTED PLACES: The National Directory, The Hampton Fire Station was still an active firehouse in 2002. One could guess that sometime between 2002 and 2008, the city moved everyone out, and sold the building to a private owner.

While the entrance to the building sits on 11th street, the old station's truck bay sits on Greenwich Street. The visitor can look through the windows of the old truck station door, that once opened to let out firemen and their fire-fighting wagons/vehicles/trucks on a mission to put out a fire. The old truck bay is used to store belongings, mattresses, etc.

Most of the old firehouses of Reading were constructed sometime between the founding of the Reading Fire Department on March 17, 1773 and 1914, when the Reading Fire Department had grown to 14 volunteer stations, that were mostly built by the city. Looking at the building, one can guess that the Hampton fire Stations was probably built in the 1850s-1890s; being beautiful yet solid and practical, inspired by Greek and Roman architecture. It has the classic long Victorian windows with fancy round brickwork around the top of each window, dentils along the roof line, and a classic roof on top.

Each privately owned fire station was awarded an annual Reading City gratuity to pay its drivers, buy supplies and maintain the building. Early fire stations were basically bucket brigades. In 1820, the first a "hand-drawn/hand-pumped apparatus was purchased". The first steam engine was purchased in 1860, at a cost of $3000.00; quite a chunk of change!! As more larger, heavier steam engines were bought, horses to draw them became a necessity, and a small stable was established at each station. In 1911, "the first motorized apparatus" joined the team. By 1923, all firehouses used motorized vehicles. The improvements continued throughout the following decades.

The beginning of the end of the volunteer individual fire station system happened in 1968, when the paid apparatus drivers won the right in court to become city employees, and joined the union Local 1803, an affiliate of the International Association of Firefighters. Today, most of Reading fire fighters are paid city employees. The city owns most of the stations fully now; though two private companies with a volunteer force have managed to survive.

Between 1844 and 1953, there were five Fire Chiefs in charge of the total Reading Fire Department: "The Howard F. Boyer years, 1873-1885, the George Washington Miller years, 1886-1915; the John George Niethammer years, 1916-1931; the Harry John Brown years, 1932-47; and the Edward Charles Dell years, 1947-53".

Fire Chief Edward Charles Dell had/has strong connections to this particular fire station building, Hampton Fire Station. Perhaps he served as the captain here, in charge of the firemen and in the running of this firehouse. Fire Chief Edward Charles Dell, who gave 40 years of service to the city of Reading, started out as a volunteer fireman for one of the private fire stations that made up the Reading Fire Department, beginning in 1912, reaching the rank of Chief in 1947. To be in a volunteer fire company for so long, shows his commitment and dedication to serve the community of Reading.

In 1949, Fire Chief Edward Dell spearheaded a very successful fire prevention program to the citizens, both in the city of Reading, and the country folk on the farms surrounding Reading. Thanks to his leadership, many would-be fires never got started in the first place, due to this educational effort aimed at the public. Fire Chief Edward Charles Dell served with a focused fervor until 1953, when he died suddenly on December second, 1953. UH OH!

HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:

People who relished their work in service during their lifetime, sometimes aren't ready to give it up, just because they have no earthly body!

( Presidio Chapel & Rectory * Brewery Arts Center * Speed Art Museum * Omaha High School )

People who die suddenly sometimes continue on in their regular schedule, either not knowing that they are dead, or refusing to accept it.

( Washington Opera House * General Wayne Inn * Pittsburgh Theatre * Biltmore Hotel   *   The Alamo )

Fire Chief Edward Dell was a dedicated public servant who took his duties and leadership in this noble occupation to heart, fully dedicated to the tasks at hand. When he died suddenly, he had plenty left do to in this world, and stayed to continue on somehow, not letting the fact that he was without a body stand in the way!

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MANIFESTATIONS:

Entity of Fire Chief Edward Charles Dell - This entity would shake the beds of sleeping firemen, just before an alarm would go off. On the anniversary of his death, his picture would fall off the wall. His well-known footsteps throughout the building would be recognized by firemen who worked under him. Sometimes, firemen would hear the sounds of a billiard game going on in the den, when no one living was in the room.

PARANORMAL FINDINGS:

Personal experiences of the firemen who worked there have been reported for many years, as long as the Hampton Fire Station was open and operational. They didn't seem too bothered, having an unseen fire fighter brother helping them in little ways. I couldn't find any posted investigations, either by a paranormal investigation group or a psychic-medium. If anyone was called in to investigate, it wasn't made public, or posted on-line.

STILL HAUNTED?

Unknown - No current paranormal activity has been reported by those folks now living in the old Hampton Fire Station building apartments. Fire Chief Edward Dell may have moved onto the other side, finally retiring, after the city closed the Hampton Fire Station. Or Fire Chief Edward Dell could've moved himself to one of the other older fire stations, though nothing has been made public, if this indeed did happen.

SOURCES INCLUDE:

HAUNTED PLACES: The National Directory by Dennis William Hauck, Penguin Books, 2002.

http://www.readingpa.gov/fire_rescue_history.asp

Article in Sunday, October 9, 1949, Edition of Reading Eagle:
Chief Dell Urges Elimination of Hazards to Home and Farm

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