Historical, antique vehicles find home

FRANCESTOWN — For 40 years, the Francestown Fire Department has hoped for a beautiful building to house local, historical vehicles. And after four years of organizing and planning, the Fire Department is ready to bestow its new Heritage Museum to the town.

It took someone dedicated to the town to make this pipe dream a reality. That person is O. Alan Thulander of Francestown. A volunteer firefighter for Francestown for more than 40 years, Thulander is now the Fire Department’s historian. He spent the last handful of years pushing the museum idea along, researching locations to build the museum on and planning, and working as a project manager, said Fire Chief Larry Kulgren in interview by phone Wednesday . Thulander was instrumental throughout the planning and construction process, Kulgren said.

“His goal was to stop talking about it, and get it done,” Kulgren said.

And although the new building next to the Town Hall still needs lighting installed, the museum is completely finished and currently houses a Concord Coach bus, that used to drive from Francestown to Greenfield valued at $500,000, a sleigh hearse, a wheeled hearse, a hand-drawn fire pumper and old-time sugaring equipment, all of which originated in town.

Kulgren said having the vehicles and equipment in a stable environment like the museum will help them last longer and will offer residents and others the opportunity to see these treasures more than just once a year at a parade.

One of the goals was to not burden local taxpayers. Francestown firefighters and others volunteered their free time to help build the museum which was funded solely with donations . Local companies who helped with the construction even did labor for free or at a reduced price, like Francestown Sand and Gravel, Inc. The building’s antique barn frame came from an old barn in Weare, and all the sheeting boards, aside from the frame, came from trees in the Shattuck Pond conservation land in Francestown, between Pleasant Pond Road, Old County Road North and Shattuck Pond Road .

Kulgren said it took 20 years to set aside enough money to be able to afford the construction of the 30-by-65 foot museum . And it was Thulander who dedicated himself to keeping this process going year after year, Kulgren noted. The Francestown Historical Improvement Society also played a part in the process, especially in reserving the location next to Town Hall and essentially adding more buildings to the old Francestown Academy campus, where the Town Hall is built .

On Sunday at 4 p.m., the community is invited to the opening of the museum, where Thulander will be honored for all his work and dedication to this project. Kulgren said this event is like a changing of the guard in that the Fire Department sees this museum as a gift to the community to now maintain and enjoy. T he museum keys will formally be turned over to the Select Board .

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