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Front of Quincy Masonic Lodge to be spared

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  October 3, 2013 02:04 PM

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Jessica Bartlett

Firefighters observed the Monday fire, which gutted the inside of the building but spared the facade.

Engineers have determined that the back half of the Quincy Masonic Lodge on Hancock Street will have to be demolished, but the iconic front part of the building can be saved.

According to the city’s Building Inspector Jay Duca, engineers analyzed the building on Wednesday following a four-alarm fire on Monday that ravaged the inside of the 87-year-old structure.

“Obviously with the demolition in the back building, there will be some precautions taken to save as much of the front part of the building as they can, which looks like it can be done,” Duca said.

The limestone façade is emblematic of Quincy’s Hancock Street, four columns leading way to etched symbols, each beneath a gold Masonic emblem perched on the building’s peak.

A four-alarm fire on Monday dusted the limestone with ash and gutted much of the building’s inside, destroying 200-year-old relics, eating through carved wooden paneling, and caving in the building’s massive roof.

Since the fire, the front part of Russell Park has been closed off to pedestrians in case the building isn’t structurally sound, and crews have been monitoring the building until it's demolished.

“They are going forward as fast as they can to get a demo contractor on board as we speak,” Duca said. ”I’d like to see it occur as soon as possible, but I’m comfortable knowing they are doing everything they can to keep the building and the public safe while they make preparations to demolish the rear portion of the building.”

Duca was unsure if any street closures would have to occur during the demolition, but noted the demolition contractor would submit the plans as part of the permitting process.

The demolition determination comes only a day after the State Fire Marshal’s Office determined that the fire’s cause was accidental.

According to a spokeswoman from Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan’s office, workers were grinding and cutting into air ducts in the basement of the building when sparks generated by the cutting ignited nearby insulation.

The temple did not have any sprinklers.

Fire officials said the workers tried to put out the fire themselves and called 911 when the fire got out of hand.

Crews spent nearly four hours putting out the fire, with responders coming from Boston as well as every part of Quincy. Crews eventually had to fight the fire from outside the building when they feared the roof would collapse.

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