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.
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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)
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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.
NOTE: The Dixwell Theater building was torn down in 2017.
In 2012, the building is home to the Columbia Mattress & Upholstery Co. CLICK to enlarge.