Historic building destroyed in Lovell Village

By Ethel Hurst

Special to the News

LOVELL — An intense early-morning fire Feb. 9 destroyed a nationally-registered 1830s building in Lovell Village, closing Route 5 for hours and even melting the letters on the Charlotte Hobbs Memorial Library’s bulletin board across the street.

A call was made to the Lovell Fire Department at 6:45 a.m. that the historical landmark building in Lovell Village was on fire. When the men arrived, one unit of the building was fully in flames from roof to the base.  Because of the building’s age, built in 1830, the fire spread quickly.

Over 60 men battled the fire but there was no way to save the building. They just tried to contain the fire to prevent damage to the home of Richard Rice on Route 5 and another building on Christian Hill Road. Due to their hard work, the only damage to other property was the library’s bulletin board.

(Photos courtesy of Stan Tupaj)

(Photos courtesy of Stan Tupaj)

Fortunately for the Lovell Fire Department, they had help from firefighters from Stoneham, Fryeburg, Saco Valley, East Conway and Center Conway. Also at the scene were Fryeburg and Stoneham Rescue. Four hours later, the fire was declared under control, with only the cleanup, which was complete at 3 p.m.

This was a big building, which at one point housed a grocery store and a laundromat, as well as a post office and a telephone switchboard. Many local people could tell you about hanging around the grocery store talking about just anything. It was a focal point in the village.

At the time of the fire, Rocky Ridge Quilters was in the space where the former laundromat had been; it was where many of the ladies learned the craft of quilting from Martha Goldsmith. Just a few doors down was Kezar Realty, owned by Stanley Tupaj who kept his bulletin signboard busy; many are going to miss that. In one of the upper units, Sam Nesbitt had his law office. Fire Chief Tom McKenzie was reported as saying that the building was home to five tenants, with one space under renovation. There was an LP gas heater being used in the space under renovation, and McKenzie said he suspects that was the cause of the fire.

Yes, the building was old, but it was still useful and occupied. The people of Lovell are grateful to all those town’s fire departments that came to help and for the great work of our own boys. It couldn’t have been easy under those conditions but thank you all for a great job. The men fighting the fire were thankful for those who brought them coffee, water and food. Also, thanks to Central Maine Power for their quick work in restoring power to all those who needed it to keep warm. Electricity in town was out for five hours, with phone and cable service out for 12 hours.

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