Newton, MA c.1915 Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph Company

By Joe Maurath, Jr.; posted November 20, 2011

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Here is the home of the famous Gamewell company who made all sorts of fire alarm telegraph boxes and an endless variety of related equipment.

You will be pleased to know that the company is still in business at or around the same location in Newton Upper Falls, MA! (a western suburb of Boston)

Also note the square poles in the photo.


Added note:

Many of the larger cities and towns here in New England employ their original-style Gamewell Fire Alarm systems, just like they did 150 years ago! Those communities who insist upon relying upon the time-tested, tried-and-true method of emergency communication include the City of Boston Fire Alarm Division and the majority of neighboring cities and towns. Some old call boxes can also be seen around as well as plenty of ancient open-wire. Some of this is supported by glass or porcelain pintype insulators. Otherwise by spools on brackets. A lot also has been updated via covered cable (especially C-Rural, red sheathed).

The most impressive working museum of fire alarm telegraph *anywhere* is in New Bedford, MA. They have insisted upon openwire up until recent years. They also have been known to have a working Gamewell glass-enclosed receiving telegraph printing unit/station from nearly 100 years ago...likely still in service! It was there 10 years ago when I last saw it.

Now how about that for keeping old-school communication logistics alive and well?

A few communities here in the Northeast have converted their emergency call boxes to 911 cell phones inside of them, some solar-powered with battery backup. Others have done away totally with call-box systems. NYC, like Boston, retains most of its fire alarm telegraph system. Bright red-illuminated lights affixed to the tops of street light fixtures around NYC indicate fire box locations. Here in New England some old fire box lights remain, including transparent red enclosures with clear incandescents within them a few feet above the box. In Boston, separate incandescent street light luminaires with red lenses are commonplace in overhead-wired neighborhoods with wooden poles.

BTW those old-time Gamewell systems still doing their job have back-up power via central station generators and/or standby batteries. So the whole system is alive and fully operational when everything else goes dead. Say that for today's cellphones and wireless devices...

Joe M