Clinton, MA Town Hall Fire, Dec 1907
CLINTON'S TOWN HALL DESTROYED BY FIRE.
LOSS OF $100,000 -- PROBABLY DUE TO CIGARET STUB LEFT BY SOMEONE AFTER HIGH SCHOOL DANCE -- TOWN RECORDS SAFE, AND NO OTHER BUILDINGS BURNED.
Clinton, Mass., Dec. 7. -- This town was visited by one of the most disastrous fires in its history, this morning, when at 5:30 flames were seen breaking from the front end of the town hall located at the corner of Church and Walnut streets. In an hour and a half, the building, the biggest and most valuable municipal structure in town, was a mass of ruins, nothing but a small annex in the rear being left of it. The loss is total on a valuation of something more than $100,000, and the insurance is but $37,500. All town records were saved.
Close to the town hall site is the Unitarian church, but the wind not being that way and a slate roof, prevented this from igniting and going down with the other.
It is thought that a stub of a cigaret or cigar, carelessly dropped during the high school dance, held Friday night, in the big auditorium, is responsible for the trouble.
The greatest excitement prevailed when the alarm was given and the fear was general that the town was in for a great disaster. Aid was asked from Worcester, and a steamer and a hose cart were loaded on a special train and started for Clinton. When it reached West Boylston at 6:30 o'clock it was stopped, for by that time the danger of any spread of the fire beyond the town hall building was over.
The fire was discovered around the front entrance, but at the time had spread through the walls and partitions to such a degree that inside of 15 minutes after the alarm was given it was a seething furnace and utterly beyond the town's fire department to check.
It is not thought that any of the town records are lost, for so far as known, all were in safes and vaults.
The building was of brick and brownstone, 125 feet deep and 75 feet front, two stories high. The municipal offices were all located there, chiefly in the rear. On the first floor was a hall, and the larger hall was above, having a seating capacity of 1200, somewhat bigger than the capacity of Fitchburg's city hall. The building was built in 1871 and '72, and was dedicated on Dec. 4 of the latter year. At that time it was considered a model municipal building, and was far from being out of date at the present time.
Word of the fire reached this city soon after it broke out, and quite a few went down to see the ruins. T. F. KEITH was considerably interested, for he has been running theatrical attractions in that hall and had a play booked for there next Monday evening.
A rather peculiar incident in this connection is that G. A. PATZ played in the hall with Gilmore's band at the dedication 35 years ago, the first music heard in the building. He also played there for the dance, last night.
The Fitchburg Sentinel Massachusetts 1907-12-07