CIVIC CENTER, GIFT OF GEORGE F. WILLETT, DESTROYED BY $100,000 FIRE AT NORWOOD
Four Buildings Belonging to Association Destroyed in Blaze of Suspicious Origin —Hospital Nearby Threatened For Time
22 Apr 1930, Tue The Boston Globe Special Dispatch to the Globe
NORWOOD, April 21—Four of the $175,000 group of six buildings presented the Norwood Civic Association for $1 by George F. Willett, Norwood’s famous ex-millionaire, were destroyed by a fire of suspicious Origin at 3:45 this afternoon, which for a time threatened the Norwood Hospital, a scant 100 yards from the blazing buildings. The loss is estimated at nearly $100,000.
About 100 patients remained in the brick hospital across Winter st, which was enveloped by clouds of dense smoke from Everett Hall, a 1000-seat auditorium. Reassured by the doctors end nurses, who stood on guard, that they were in no danger, the patients remained calm in their beds, Ignoring the smoke that seeped in despite the closed windows.
Mr Willett at Scene
At no time did sparks ignite the hospital building. There was only a slight breeze and though it was sufficient to blow the smoke over the hospital, the wind carried very few embers. The fireproof shingles on the Civic Buildings also prevented flying sparks.
Some alarm was caused about 10:30 o’clock, five hours after the fire was declared all out, when a hot air explosion lifted one corner of the roof of the Social Hall about three Inches and blew out all the windows on the second floor. No great damage was caused by this explosion and no fire resulted.
Mr Willett, a spectator at the fire, told newspapermen that “this was the end of the Civic Association.” He gave his opinion that the four destroyed structures would never be rebuilt. Mr Willett, who was scheduled to speak in Everett Hall tomorrow night concerning an advertisement refuting the charges he made against Gov Allen at Everett Hall two weeks ago, has already engaged the Junior High School for his scheduled talk tomorrow night.
Trustee James Folan of the Norwood Clvic Association stated at the scene that he believed the fire was of incendiary origin. He said there was no one in Everett Hall during the day and there was no reason for the fire breaking out in the basement as it did.
NORWOOD FIRE LOSS PLACED AT $100,000
An investigation was immediately launched by the Police and Fire Departments and State fire Inspectors will be called in tomorrow to aid in the investigation.
The four buildings destroyed were Everett Hall, the gymnasium, the office building and the lobby. the two buildings saved were the social hall and the swimming pool. All the civic buildings are of two-story wooden construction except the lobby building, which is an enclosed corridor running between the other units.
Some boys playing In the yard are supposed to have discovered the blaze. Miss Josephine Cogan, executive secretary, who was in the office building, made her escape without trouble before the fire spread to the office building from Everett Hall. The latter building was belching flames from the cellar and roof when Chief John Hannigan arrived.
A general alarm was sounded and Walpole and East Walpole each sent a pump and a ladder. During the fire 15 lines of hose played on the blaze, which was brought under control at 5:30.
Insurance Covers Loss
The Civic buildings were occupied, besides the association, by Troop 6, Boy Scouts of America; the Norwood Post, American Legion, and the Norwood Board of Trade. An unsuccessful attempt was recently made to get the town to buy the buildings. The association has been hard hit by Ioss of the town’s patronage, as before the erection of the new junior high school and high school, the town used to hire the halls and gymnasium for athletic and social purposes. Now the town has no need of outside facilities.
Mr Folan, one of the association’s trustees, said there was $130,000 insurance on the buildings and $45,000 on the furniture and fixings-
Half a dozen townsfolk rushed into the blazing buildings and brought out some furniture and historical treasures.