Dorset, VT Congregational Church Fire, Nov 1907

Birds Eye View of Dorset, VT from Congressional Church, 1930s from


Old Congregational Edifice at Dorset, Vt., Destroyed by Fire.

Manchester, Vt., Nov. 24---The Congregational Church in Dorset was burned early today, causing a loss of $10,000, upon which there is an insurance of $6000. When worshippers arrived from a distance this morning they found the structure in ruins.

A coal fire was started in the furnace, last night to heat the church for the Sunday services and it is supposed that a defective flue or chimney permitted the fire to spread to the building. When discovered the flames had gained such headway that the bell could not be rung and consequently assistance could not be quickly summoned and the structure could not be saved.

The church was built in 1833 and was one of the oldest in the State.

The Boston Journal, Boston, MA 25 Nov 1907

In November, 1907, a disaster befell the community which few of us can even now remember without tightened throats. Our beloved church, symbol of our corporate existance, center of our religious and social activity, was burned to the ground.

Nobody will ever know how the fire started, and perhaps that is just as well. It was discovered by Dr. Liddle's dog who began barking furiously at five o'clock in the morning of November 24th. There was no water system in Dorset then and of course no fire hose. Conflagrations had to be fought with buckets. The whole valley was roused. Horses and carriages and motor cars flew to the spot, but nothing could be done. The flames had gathered volume and made great headway before they had been noticed and the whole interior of the church was a roaring furnace. The neighboring houses and the church sheds could be protected from flying sparks; otherwise, awed and stricken comtemplation was the only course open to the assembly. "It was awful, and I guess there was not a dry eye in that crowd as the old bell went down and crashed into the furnace. But it was simply awful." Weeping and lamentation were heard about the valley that day and as far as telephones and telegrams could reach.

It was Sunday---the Sunday before Thanksgiving Day. Mr. Carhart lost not a minute of time about accepting the challenge implied in that ironical circumstance. "We had church in the School Hall and a sorrowful time it was. Mr. Carhart seemed inspired. He told the people we had got to make sacrifices and as a starter he would give his salary from now till July 1st, $400. I can tell you he had hard work to talk."

The response to the pastor's splendidly generous act was gratifying. One little Dorset boy who had been saving money to buy a new overcoat, said he would wear his old one another year and gave the sum to the church. Other parishoners pledged themselves according to their means. By the first of the new year the fund was well under way, and soon enough money was in sight to enable us to make definite plans. Committees were chosen, architects were consulted, reports were made. Meantime, we continued to hold servvices in the School Hall.

The story of Dorset, Rutland, Vt 1924, pages 267-268