Daw Packing Co. School Street and Washington Avenue Friday, February 3, 1978
In the early hours of Friday, February 3, 1978, Engine 4 on Platoon 3, under the command of Capt. Tom Doherty, was first in for a basement fire at the Daw Packing Co. on the corner of School Street and Washington Avenue.
For the second time in six months, gas service created a major problem for Hamden firefighters. An October 1977 explosion caused by leaking gas destroyed an apartment in Whitneyville. In this emergency, a ruptured gas line fed the fire for more than four hours. Zero degree temperatures and a two-week old accumulation of heavy snow and ice had made it impossible for Southern Connecticut Gas Co. employees to locate and turn off the building's gas service.
Three days later, Connecticut was treated to the infamous "Blizzard of '78," which dumped more than two feet of snow on Hamden and paralyzed state roads for several days.
A firefighter's notes made in the margin of this article at the time of its publication:"This is just prior to the collapse of the east side rear wall. Ladder pipe is connected - but no water flowing. Eng. 3 is at the hydrant at Day Spring about 1000' away hooking up to supply the ladder pipe line, which has a hose clamp on it. [Dan] Murphy is on the ladder waiting for water while [another firefighter is] climbing up to tell him it's coming as soon as 3's gets hooked up."
A couple of days after this fire, one of the worst blizzards of the 20th Century hit the state of Connecticut.
Myth Refuted: "The Baloney Shop" was never a school. (Added 4/6/2018)
After fire destroyed the Daw Packing Company at the corner of Washington Avenue and School Street, the New Haven Register and Hamden Chronicle both reported that the building was once Hamden's District School No. 5. Indeed, the burned-out brick structure in the New Haven Register news photo at the top of this page, nicknamed "the Baloney Factory," certainly looked like an old school.
1914 - District School No. 5 Class Photo
However, a District School No. 5 class photo from the Hamden Historical Society, published in theChronicle at the time of the fire, casts doubt on the schoolhouse story.
Unlike Daw Packing's brick building that was destroyed by fire, the schoolhouse in the old class photo was obviously of wood-frame construction with clapboard siding. After researching some old Hamden town reports, the website came up with some answers.
In 1910, the original 53-year old District No. 5 School, located on the north side of School Street between Whitney and Washington Avenues, was replaced by a brand new four-room wood-frame building on Washington Avenue (photo below) at the corner of School Street - the same building pictured in the old class photo.
1910 - District School No. 5, Washington Ave., cor. School St.
1950 - Hamden Provision Company, 9 School St.
The schoolhouse at Washington Avenue and School School closed eight years later when the new Centerville School (now Miller Library) opened on Dixwell Avenue. During the 1920-21 fiscal year, the old schoolhouse was purchased by the Hamden Provision Company, which tore it down it to construct their new brick building (at right). Daw Packing Co. purchased the building in the 1950s, and it was destroyed by fire in February 1978.
Mystery solved: The "Baloney Shop" was never a school.
Edward Quimby's 1910 and 1914 photos are courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society.
September 1950 - The Hamden Chronicle (Courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society)