Culver’s Firemen’s Memorial

Should it be Firemen’s or Fireman’s?  In any case, Culver Union Township Fire Department (CUTFD) is considering erecting a Memorial where they can honor the firemen that dedicated their time and energy to the protection of lives and property in the Town of Culver and surrounding Union Township.  They currently have a two memorial plaques on the building for past Fire Chiefs.  It would be difficult to install more without changing the prominence, plus since a new building is being considered, a better location/system is needed.

CUTFD Secretary/Treasurer, Dave Cooper, asked me to come up with a suitable design for this project.  He asked that I incorporate the bell that currently hangs in front of the Fire Station.  They also have a hose cart that they want included.  They want an appropriate memorial where markers could be added over time.

The sketch above (Thanks Mary Ellen!) shows the main memorial wall.  It mimics some of the natural field stone work in the existing planter in front of the Fire Station.  This is an element that was recommended as a continuing theme in the Culver Design Charrette.  The field stone and limestone theme is also seen in the “Welcome to Culver” sign (see picture at left) at the intersection of Lake Shore Drive and Highways 10 & 17 as well as other places throughout town.

The wall is a curved wall on a 15′ radius which would have their antique hose cart as a focal point near the radius center.  The original design called for a paver plaza in front of the memorial with the hose cart (picture to the right) in the center.  Currently the firemen are considering using the plaza pavers as a fundraising mechanism similar to what was done at Heritage Park.

The bell that is currently mounted in the existing planter (See picture to the left) would be relocated to the center of the new memorial.  It would be fixed in place as it is now, but it would be more accessible where it could be touched.  It will be recessed into the masonry and supported by a steel lintel.

The sketch shows Tempest Torches on the columns at either end.  (See the picture to the right.)  These are gas fired torches that would draw attention to the memorial.  They could be lit for events or special occasions, i.e. Lakefest, Firemen’s Festival, Lion’s Club Corn Roast, Lake Maxinkuckee Film Festival, etc., but remain decorative the rest of the time if they chose not to keep them lit.  It seemed fitting to use fire as part of the memorial and it plays into an eternal flame theme.  The firemen are considering these, but they could be removed to save expense.

I gave several other options for them to consider, such as a Philharmonic fire and water fountain.  What could be better for firemen than a display that includes BOTH fire and water!?!  I also suggested the possibility to add benches or possibly a triple pole flag display.

My suggestion for the individual memorial plaques would be to get bronze castings in the shape of the fire helmet badges (picture to the right) used by CUTFD.  The plaques could be cast with names, dates, numbers or whatever other symbols of significance they chose.  The sketch shows bands of limestone set into the wall where the memorial markers could be anchored.  These could be set permanently with inaccessible epoxy anchors.

The firemen would like to place this memorial in the lawn area on the south side of the firemen’s parking lot.  I am suggesting that it be placed towards the corner on the west side, angled with its center line 45 degrees to the sidewalk intersection.  This would orient it somewhat towards the fire station while keeping the focus towards Lake Shore Drive.  This would minimize the disruption to the site, existing trees and ancillary uses such as the Lake Maxinkuckee Film Festival’s donor dinner.

I have suggested that a donor website be created to generate interest in the project and to solicit donations.  The generosity of the Culver community is often amazing and possibly a donor that has had their lives touched by these dedicated public servants may step forward with a donation that would cover one of the larger elements.  That would make the memorial that much more significant.  As always, comments or suggestions are welcome here.  Changes are always easier while the project is at the paper stage, so this is the time for input.


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