A Special Meeting of the HFRA has been called for Wednesday, June 27th. Check the Members Only page for details. E-mail notices have already been sent and postcard notices were mailed to all members last Monday.
The first alarm was received at 6:10 p.m. on Monday evening, February 14, 1938. The Dixwell Theater, opposite Goodrich Street, was on fire. Before it was over nearly four hours later, a total of 52 Hamden paid and volunteer firefighters had responded with Engines 1, 2, 3 and 4 and the hook and ladder. The loss was estimated at $40,000, a staggering sum in those days.
CLICK to enlarge article
Dixwell Theater Fire, February 14, 1938 - 1st Asst. Chief Raymond C. Spencer, complete with cigar, doing a little overhauling. Chief Spencer's penchant for cigars would lead to a classic prank a couple of decades later. (Photographer unknown - probably I.A. Sneidermann)
CLICK ARTICLE to enlarge for easier reading
The double feature the night of the fire was to have been Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in the Oscar® winning (Best Director) film, "The Awful Truth," and a low-budget cheapie called "A Fight to the Finish" - both films from Columbia Pictures. Ironically, the Dixwell Theater building today is home to the Columbia Mattress & Upholstery Co. (You just can't make this stuff up!)
The Dixwell Theater was rebuilt and continued to operate until the 1960s. Since it closed as a theater, the building has been occupied by various retail and wholesale businesses.
In 2012, the building is home to the Columbia Mattress & Upholstery Co. - CLICK to enlarge.
"The lookers-on derived no little amusement from the fact that the marquee carried the listings, 'The Awful Truth' and 'A Fight to the Finish.'"
The New Haven Journal-Courier, February 15, 1938
This photo, which appeared in the December 4, 1994 edition of The Hamden Chronicle, shows Firefighter Jim Koutsopolos demonstrating an Akron nozzle to some kids from the Spring Glen School. The 1973 Maxim Telesqurt and the 1991 Pierce Tower can be seen in the background. Our appreciation to Jim for this and numerous other photos and articles that will be posted in the coming weeks.
This 1949 news item from the Strain family, courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society.