111 years ago on May 14th was the Massabesic Hotel Fire of 1903. Built in the early years of the 19th century, The Old Massabesic House was, “a hotel, cafe, picnic grounds, and well known resort, located at the northern tip of Massabesic Lake near Candia Road.” The hotel was “built by the Cogswell Family and it was the first of many hotels to be built around the lake.” By its 100th birthday, the hotel was left abandoned with little upkeep.
The details of the fire were published in the Daily Kennebec Journal the next day. They stated that The Manchester Union received a “postal card message…to the effect that there would be brilliant illumination of the heavens to the east of the city [at] about 8:30 o’clock [sic] and at the hour predicted, the sky was red from the blazing structure.”
What was once a beautiful structure was completely destroyed by arson. The Kennebec Journal wrote of the damage: “The building was not occupied and contained but few hotel furnishings and as it was out of repair the loss was slight, amounting to about $2000. On the premises was stored a hobby horse outfit valued at $2500 which was utterly ruined. There was no insurance on either the building or its contents.”
The arsonist who warned of the fire was never caught and remains anonymous to this day!