Mt. Tom Pavilion Burned

by Laurel | October 9th, 2009

October 9, 1900, page 4
Popular Local Resort Gone.
Fire Seen For Miles Around.
Summit House Ablaze Makes a Brilliant Picture — Loss About $25,000.

Mt. Tom Pavilion Burned Last Night

Mt. Tom Pavilion Burned Last Night

The picturesque Summit hour of the Mt Tom railroad went up in fire and smoke last evening, affording one of the most brilliant spectacles seen in this section since the burning of Mount Holyoke college. For miles around, in spite of mists and rain, the red blear of the burning house, drew the eye to the mountain summit. One of the most conspicuous landmarks of this section was completely destroyed, at a loss of not less than $25,000, and probably exceeding that amount.

Through the drizzling rain last evening about 9 those who happened to be in sight of Mt Tom were startled be the sight of a dull red glow, in place of the gleaming white of the electric arc. The rain heat against it in a vain attempt to drown it out; excited men used all their puny strength in a dozen ways to smother it; but the fire leaped higher, mocking their efforts. The dull glow changed to a glowing scarlet that tinged the clouds till they tolled about the mountain summit like a sea of blood. From one end of the valley to the other, north and south, men’s eyes were turned to the beacon of flame in wonder, in pity, and in admiration. The blaze at its height neon like a signal fire of gods. Full 20 miles away men and women watched in fascination as the flames rose and fell, gleaming in blurred outlines through the falling mists. A whole city watched its burning, and the news of its passing flashed over the wires from our end of the country to the other. The sight of such a titanic bonfire will not soon be forgotten by those who witnessed it; and had the night been fair and the sky clear, a thousand eyes would have seen it for a hundred who chanced to view it last evening.

The first news of the fire came to Holyoke in a telephone message over the company’s private line to the street railway office, calling for help. Two special cars were quickly brought out of the barn and President Loomis was notified by telephone. Secretary Hill was also on hand, and Superintendent Hunter quickly impressed a dozen or 15 men. The cars started promptly and made the run as rapidly as possible, arriving at the scene of the fire little after 9:15. There was little that could be done by those present, and at at 10 o’clock the heavens were aglow front the burning house. There were not many people on the Holyoke streets, but those who were quickly passed the word from lip to lip. The telephone hells were kept ringing, and from a large number of houses, particularly on Depot hill, the burning of the building was witched. After the two special cars, no cars left for Mt Tom, and those who desired to visit the mountain had to walk. Soon after, too, the electric telephone wires nere burned out, and no connection could be had pith the summit.

The origin of the fire is not known. The watchman at the building went to the basement about 8:30. and upon going upstairs left everything as he supposed, all right. About 15-minutes later he bad occasion to go down again, and upon opening the door of the cellar found it all ablaze. He immediately gave the alarm. As soon as the first car arrived the men hustled out and saved what they could of the property in the burning building. The piano and the Angelus and some of the show-eases were saved, but it was impossible to save anything from the top floors. In the observatory were the telescope, the record book of visitors, several charts, maps and other valuable matter, all of which were lost in the flames. The efforts of the men who went top from Holyoke were devoted to tearing up the plank walk and fences, as soon as the valuables that could be saved front the building had been taken out. There was but one accident in fighting the fire. George Bowker, an employee of the railway company, had his face quite badly cut by being hit with a nail in a board which he had pulled from the building. The officials of the road remained on the mountain until an early hour this morning. A number of Holyoke people walked to the top of the mountain last night.

The Mt. Tom house, or observatory, has been built a little over three years, having keen completed in June, 1897, a month after the completion of the Mt Tom railroad. Originally it had a small observatory in the top. which was greatly enlarged the following year and the-building otherwise improved, the company adding $2000 or more to the building in different ways. The original cost of the building was about $20,000, and the company had at least $5000 more in furniture, including a piano. biograph, orchestrion, several fine telescopes, and a great variety of small articles of interest. Soon after it was constructed by the Mt Tom railroad company it was leased to the Holyoke street railroad company. The railroad to the summit is said to have cost between S50,000 and $60,000, and the company was incorporated at $100,000. The contract for refreshments was let this year, as In previous years, to G. L. Bowker & Co. of the Hotel Hamilton, whose loss in furniture, goods, etc., approximated $2000. The building was insured for about $12,000.

It is likely that many persons will visit the site of the burned house to-day. The railroad still be running, as that was not injured in the least, and the view there is grand as ever. Without doubt, temporary shelter, with, perhaps temporary refreshment booths, will be erected as soon as possible, and, of course a new building will be ready for next season. October is one of the best months in the year to get a good view from the summit, and least three weeks more of good weather can be counted upon. Since the burning of Mount Holyoke college four years ago, no fire hereabouts has attracted so much attention as the fire of last evening. In this case, however, there was no getting to the scene of the fire, and those who desired to see it close by were unsatisfied.

From The Springfield Republican.

One Response to “Mt. Tom Pavilion Burned”

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