Nevada City's first firehouse was built in 1861 for the Nevada Hose Company No. 1. This firehouse stored handcarts, horse drawn fire wagons and later, motorized fire trucks. The building was used as an operational firehouse until 1938 when the new City Hall and fire station were built.
The Nevada County Historical Society established this same building as its first museum, the Firehouse No. 1, in 1947. The museum has been staffed by volunteers and supported by visitor donations ever since. The Firehouse No. 1 museum hosts four main displays of Nevada County history dating from the late 19th to early 20th century.
The first display encountered when walking through the museum doors is that of the Nisenan Indians of the Nevada City Rancheria. The Nisenan have inhabited Nevada County for thousands of years. The Nisenan exhibit offers a wide range of cultural items including watertight baskets, ceremonial feather dance collars, arrowheads, hand game bones, pounding stones and an extensive photo display.
The Chinese exhibit is the next display visitors to the Firehouse No. 1 museum will encounter. The Chinese display houses altars from the Hou Wang and Kuan Yin Temples from Grass Valley's Chinatown; 1877-1938. Other items of interest are opium pipes, cooking equipment and school mementos, all which are beautifully displayed in this historic collection from Nevada County's Chinese pioneers.
If visitors have interest in the Donner Party, here is a chance to see actual items retrieved from the Breen and Graves cabins. The Donner Party relics were collected by C.F. McGlashan. Lastly, the upstairs of the museum contains an extensive collection of Victorian daily-life articles can be seen. This Victorian collection includes firearms, tools, household items, musical instruments, wedding gowns, toys and favorite of the kids; the miniature dollhouse.
The historic Firehouse No. 1 museum is a diamond located in Gold Country. The museum, located at 214 Main Street in Nevada City, holds many of Nevada County's hidden treasures and is a must-stop for all who visit historic Nevada City.