Created By: Ithaca Heritage
The Firehouse 5 Mural at 136 W. State St. was completed in 2017 by four artists, including members of the newly-formed Dripped on the Road traveling artist residency program. Each figure in the mural was designed and completed by a different artist, in order from left to right: Ramiro Davaro, Jenna Garmhausen (formerly Jim Garmhausen), BelowKey, and Denton Burrows.
The artists' different depictions of firemen honor the building's history as the Downtown Ithaca Torrent House No. 5, built in 1891. The building served as a volunteer firehouse through the 1970s, and from 1994–2002, it was the location of the Firehouse Theatre. The Firehouse Theatre was a beloved local performance venue, hosting year-round performances in an 85-seat black box auditorium for eight years.
Following the closure of the theatre, the building was bought by Ralph Thorpe. Thorpe renovated the building, opening it as the Ithaca Calendar Clock Museum in 2003. On display were 150 original Ithaca calendar clocks from Thorpe's personal collection. The first calendar clock was invented in Ithaca, NY, in 1853 by J. H. Hawes. In 1854, William Atkins and Joseph C. Burritt, also of Ithaca, invented the first perpetual calendar mechanism. A patent was issued to Atkins and Joseph C. Burritt on September 19, 1854, for their improvement on the calendar clock concept.
The Ithaca Calendar Clock Co. (ICC) began production that year, and it remained the global leader in calendar clocks for the next 50 years, printing its calendar dials in over fifteen languages. The company went out of business in 1918. Local fans of the original clock company opened the Ithaca Clock Company, Inc. in Newfield, NY, in 1981, making some 500 reproductions over the next few years based on the original ICC designs. Ralph Thorpe died in September of 2009 at the age of 68, and the Ithaca Clock Company Museum was closed and sold off. Some of Thorpe’s clocks can still be found in the archives of The History Center in Tompkins County, which acquired some of his collection.
As of 2020, the building is home to the Firehouse Architecture Lab, who collaborated with local artist Jenna Garmhausen (formerly Jim Garmhausen) and the Dripped on the Road artists to create the Firehouse 5 Mural.
Video interview of the mural painting process: https://vimeo.com/239088843
This point of interest is part of the tour: History & Art - Driving Tour of Tompkins County