This postcard of Beardstown’s City Hall/Courthouse/Firehouse was postmarked in June of 1935.
In this section of the card, a U. S. Route 67 sign is visible. A boy is scurrying across State Street in a blur, between a tree and the farthest vehicle from the photographer. Route 67 ran through Beardstown and crossed the river at the old wagon bridge, until the new bridge, outside of the city, opened in 1955.
Until 1974, Beardstown’s Fire Department was based downtown, at the rear of the city hall building. A siren was located atop a tower on the roof to alert firefighters after a blaze was reported, or to warn Beardstown residents of impending severe weather.
Before the electrically operated siren was installed, the tower was home to a bell. This 600 pound bell, removed on June 4th, 1930, had been gathering dust in a corner of the fire department when a Quincy, Illinois junk dealer purchased it for $25 in October, 1933.
A steam powered whistle at the Water Works, located at 11th and Edwards Streets, which was also used as a fire alarm, became unusable when the water plant switched from steam to electric power, necessitating the installation of the downtown siren.
The bell in the Congregational Church belfry was used in the days before the fire department was equipped with its own alarm system. A cable extended from the church bell to the city hall building, at the other end of the block, allowing the bell to be rung whenever a fire broke out. Besides announcing services at the church, and fires, the bell also pealed in times of celebration, such as Union victories during the Civil War.