April 25, 2019

Vendome Hotel Fire Monument

This year marks the 47th anniversary of the Vendome Hotel fire. The hotel was located on Commonwealth Ave Mall, near Dartmouth Street.

On June 17th, 1972 the building caught on fire. Nine firefighters were killed while trying to put out the fire. To this day it is still the worst fire in Boston's history.

Hotel Vendome

Eleven things I learned about the Hotel Fire

Hotel Vendome was completed in 1871 - named after a similar hotel in Paris. In 1882, it was the first hotel in America to have electric lights - Thomas Edison stayed at the hotel to personally see it.

The hotel suffered during the depression. On December 28, 1969, a fire broke out in the hotel - when the top three floors were badly damaged. The owners couldn't recover from the fire and sold the hotel a couple of years later.

The new owner was upgrading the hotel to the apartment and a two-floor shopping area.

At the time of the fire, the building was still under construction. There were 100 people in the cafe and some construction workers upstairs. An electrician was the one that reported the blaze by pulling a local firebox around 2:35 pm

By 3:06 the fire went to four alarms.

At 5:20 pm, the southeast corner of the building collapsed trapping and crushing nine firefighters. (The southeast corner faces Dartmouth street.)

The collapsed occurred during a shift change when a large number of firemen were out of the building. There were 25 firemen in the building when it collapsed occurred.

The fallen were Thomas W. Beckwith, Joseph J. Boucher Jr., Joseph P. Saniuk, John E. Hanbury Jr., Thomas J. Carroll, Paul J. Murphy, Richard B. Magee, John E. Jameson and Charles E. Dolan.

It took 50 firemen nine hours to recover all the bodies from the fire.

One other woman died in the fire.

The actual cause of the fire has never been determining. In addition, Fire Marshal also wasn't able to determine where the fire started. It is believed that it was an accident and not intentionally set.

You can learn a lot more detail about the fire on the Boston Fire History website.

Monument

The monument was dedicated on June 17, 1987 - the 25th anniversary of the fire.

It is located diagonally across the street of the former Hotel Vendome.

There is a timeline on the monument, as you read through it your facing towards the former hotel.

The memorial was designed by Ted Clausen and architected by Peter White.

Other Tragic Fires

November 15, 1942 - Six Firemen died at the 110-year-old Lyceum Hall in East Boston.

October 1, 1964 - Four Firemen died at a toy factory on Trumbull Street in the South End.

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