I will start out with - due to the dense fog that morning, it was very difficult shooting. I also apologize for the number of photos and repeats. I wanted to give all the firefighters working this fire the opportunity to see all photos.
A lightning strike is believed to have sparked a fire that destroyed most of an 1898 home that was once a swanky restaurant (according to local media) where a few celebrities dined. On arrival heavy fire had consumed a shed that was on the side of the dwelling which the town has listed as 10,000 sq ft and now a private residence; it was billed as “a 23-room Queen Anne, late Victorian, gambrel roof country mansion.
The call originated around 0500hrs. Neighbors reported they awoke to the sound of a loud explosion and when Police officers first arrived heavy fire was on the left side of the dwelling and reported that all occupants of the home were safely out.
Fires in like most little towns, are in areas where fire hydrants are non-existent. Chief of Dept John Bennett stated firefighters were hampered early on by water problems and because the blaze likely burned unnoticed for two hours inside voids in the walls because of the balloon-style construction. Due to the water issue the call for mutual aid went out to area departments (Dist 8) bringing in tankers for a water shuttle. With fire still growing and the difficulty of getting water quickly to the scene the Chief ordered a Tender Task Force from now District 7.
The three-alarm blaze drew about 150 firefighters from at least 20 Central Massachusetts communities, the chief said.
One firefighter, from Rutland, suffered a hand injury.
History of the home:
The backyard boasts a stunning view, and the barn, according to a social media site for The Living Room, is used for Sunday worship services. Neighbors said on a clear day, one can see the Boston skyline from the backyard, where a large cross stands and sunrise services are held on Easter morning.
The house has been home to three different restaurants, the Meeting House, the Inn at Princeton and Country Inn at Princeton. According to media sources and a woman that once worked there celebrities such as Paul Newman and his wife ate there.
According to the assessor's records, the home was built by Charles F. Washburn of Worcester, who apparently used it as a summer residence. Local records noted that Theodore Roosevelt visited the home and was friendly with the Washburns. In the 1950s Roy Wall operated the Meeting House Restaurant there. In 1970 a school was run out of the building and in 1975 Susanne Reed and Elizabeth Sjogren operated the Inn at Princeton for several years. In 1982 the property was sold again where the owners ran the Country Inn at Princeton. After that the home was sold as a private home.
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