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"Engine Company No. 5"

Eddy, Ellery

Mid-Cambridge, Mural


Inman Square Firehouse

Title: Engine Company No. 5
Date: 1976
Materials: Acrylic on brick
Dimensions: 15' x 25'
Location: 1384 Cambridge Street (Intersection of Cambridge and Hampshire Streets) High on the exterior wall.

Seeing and experiencing


High above the intersection of Cambridge and Hampshire Streets at the very top of a fire station, Ellery Eddy's mural presides over Inman Square. It celebrates a group of local heroes: the firefighters of Engine Company No. 5.


Look up at the mural. What do you see? What identifies these men as firefighters? They stand in relaxed postures with smiles. What do you think Eddy is trying to say about them? Why do you think the artist included the dog?


Hidden in the image is a portrait of George Washington, first President of the United States and also a volunteer firefighter. How has Eddy made his presence in the group stand out? Can you find Ben Franklin, the man who invented electricity and started the first volunteer fire station? How has the artist dressed him? Why do you think she chose this outfit for him? Why has Eddy included these men in her portrait of Engine Company No. 5?


What colors do you see? Do you think these colors mean something in the context of the piece? How has the artist incorporated the actual brick of the fire station into the piece?

fire station before mural

Not only is this a portrait of a specific fire station, but it also honors all the men and women who risk their lives to protect the citizens of Cambridge. How has the artist evoked the sense of one community protecting another?


How does this mural "come alive?" Does it feel like the scene is coming off the wall, extending into actual space?


Find George Washington and Ben Franklin. If they jumped off the mural onto Cambridge Street, what would they think of modern life? Create a skit in which George and Ben enter the fire station and meet today's firefighters. What would happen?

fire station before mural


What you will need: Sketchpad or paper, pencils, pens, crayons, charcoals, pastels or paint.


Who is a hero? What qualities do they possess? What do you consider a heroic act? If you think about it, many heroes are hidden in our midst - everyday people who do wonderful things for others. If you were going to create an artwork about a neighborhood hero, whom would you choose? Make a drawing or painting that honors this person. Carefully consider your color choices and how you will "lay out" your design so that your artwork suggests how important this individual is.


What you will need: Ten 8.5" x 11" sheets of paper; pencils, pens or crayons; glue or tape; two wooden dowels


There are fire stations in every community. Take the time to visit your local station and thank the firefighters for their work. Ask them why they became firefighters, how they trained and what they like about their job.


Using the information you have gathered, create several (from five to eight) pictures to make a story about the fire station. Arrange the pictures in order and then tape or glue them together. Add a beginning sheet of paper with the title story. An end sheet can include credits, thanks and a brief description of the author (you). Staple the beginning sheet to one dowel and the end sheet to the other dowel. Roll up your story. Now read it aloud. As the story progresses, unroll the left dowel while rolling up the right side.