Happy Birthday SFDFD!!
By Public Information Officer Bill Rehkopf
September 21, 2018

Sykesville Freedom District Fire Dept by W.F. Church (Carroll Sun, Sunday, May 12, 1985)

On July 22, 1933, the Hugg mansion, a century-old landmark a short distance from Sykesville on the Howard County side of the Patapsco River, was destroyed by fire.

The blaze was discovered about 9:30p.m. Saturday while the town was filled with weekend shoppers. By the time the nearest fire company, from Ellicott City, reached the scene, the 34 room structure, containing period furniture of one of the area’s early and affluent families was beyond saving.

The sudden destruction of the Hugg mansion brought to Sykesville residents the realization of the town’s vulnerable position in the event of fire. Sentiment began building. In its issue of September 14, 1933, the Sykesville Herald reported that a movement was afoot to organize and equip a volunteer fire company.

A week later (September 21, 1933), 20 young men signed up as members and voted to form the Sykesville Volunteer Fire Company. They elected these officers: J. Marion Harris, President; H. Lester Phelps, Vice-president; Celius L. Brown Secretary; J. Nevin Ports, Treasurer, and Leo F. Chrobot, Chief.

The company’s first fund raising venture was a Tag Day Sale on Saturday, September 24, 1933. The sale, suggested by local clothing merchant James Korb, was of small red lapel tags, printed on a hand-fed press in the Herald shop by the late W.S. Church. Price of the tags was a “silver donation,” for it was a time of severe economic depression and money was tight.

The town had been without a bank for two years, following the Central Trust Company crash. Most tags went for 10 to 25 cents. A local physician, Dr. D. B. Sprecher, sent a volunteer’s spirit soaring by contributing a dollar. At day’s end, the tag sale had netted the sum of $51.25, the first money ever raised for the new fire company.

Shortly thereafter, the company began use of the garage in the picture at the left. The building still stands today as, appropriately, Firehouse Creamery.

It was the humble beginning of a volunteer outfit with much larger areas of service in its future.