From the Patriot Ledger:
Firefighters have put out the four-alarm blaze that ripped through the Masonic Temple on Hancock Street in Quincy. However, crews will remain at the charred building overnight to make sure it doesn't flare up again.
As of 3:40 p.m., firefighters had stopped dumping water on the building and no flames or smoke were visible. The fire started at about noon Monday when two construction workers were using grinders on the heating system in the basement, Leo Martin, the realtor who has agreed to buy the building, said.
"All our history is gone," David Elsner, head of the Masonic Temple Association of Quincy, said. The Rural Lodge of Masons has occupied the building since it was erected in 1926.
As of 6 p.m., the section of Hancock Street that had been previously closed as crews battled the fire was partially re-opened to traffic.
Firefighters were ordered out of the building shortly after arriving because of the heavy flames, Quincy Fire Chief Joseph Barron said. Ladder trucks from Quincy and Boston's fire departments responded to the blaze.
Thick billows of black smoke could be seen from miles away. As flames shot out of the temple’s roof, large crowds gathered at street corners and in parking lots in Quincy Center, black-charred debris raining down from the sky.
Quincy Police Chief Paul Keenan said there were no injuries and none of the surrounding buildings were evacuated. However, a reporter observed that the Sovereign Bank and Citizens Bank near the temple had closed early Monday.
For several hours, a portion of Hancock Street - from the Adams Street intersection to the rotary at the Church of Presidents - was closed to all traffic. As a result, all drop-offs and pick-ups at the Quincy Center MBTA were diverted to the Burgin Parkway side of the T station.
Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, who was attending a meeting on Hancock Street when the fire started, said the roof has collapsed.
“Hopefully the shell will survive," Koch said.
Leo Martin, a Quincy realtor who has agreed to purchase the temple, said the fire started shortly after noon when two construction workers were "grinding out a heat line" in the basement, and the insulation caught fire. The two employees exited the building safely, Martin said.
The Quincy Masonic Temple, a neoclassical structure built in 1926 for the Freemasons, is valued by the city's assessors at $3 million. The Rural Lodge of Masons currently have about 400 members, Elsner said.
"It's an architectural jewel," lodge member Jim Bennette of Weymouth said. Bennettee rushed to the temple once he heard about the fire.
"We love this building," he said. "We care about this building. It's a great loss for the whole city and the South Shore."
The three-story building, at 1170 Hancock St., was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. The building, 21,653 square feet in size, stands out because of its archaic stone facade, which includes four pillars and a gold Freemason symbol at the entrance.
Hanover-based broker 1st US Realty listed the property for sale over the summer. Elsner said Martin had plans to rehabiliate the temple and continue allowing the masons to use it.
H/T Michael Dodge