Blaze Consumes History with Weeks-Frenning Fire

Official report shows fire had taken a toll on the interior by the time firefighters had arrived.

The Weeks-Frenning House that once stood at 35 Clover St. was a gem of a bygone era.

Built in the 1890s for the wealthy Boston egg and butter magnet H. Hazen Weeks, it was sold to John Frenning, a Boston store merchant who helped develop the neighborhood.

Architect William Richardson – who with his partner Henry Walker Hartwell created Belmont's Town Hall as well as many turn-of-the-century school buildings in New England – designed this excellent example of the Single Style, a turn-of-the-century romantic interpretation of the New England Colonial, with its broad roof lines and singled wall surfaces. The porch shows the style's Colonial Revival influence while its oriel bay and ocular windows brings an old-world elegance to the home.

The structure was built in the 1890s for the wealthy Boston egg and butter magnet H. Hazen Weeks so sold it to John Frenning, a Boston store merchant who helped develop the neighborhood.

But at 5:09 a.m. on June 1, Belmont Fire dispatched received the notification that a house just off Waverley Road was a blaze.

According to Belmont Fire's official log that was recently released, it took five minutes for all of Belmont's fire companies to responded to the corner of Clover and Blake streets. The commander at the scene reported heavy fire showing when he arrived. There was heavy overlapping fire emanating from the first floor picture window facing the street and from another smaller window on the second floor. There was also heavy overlapping fire showing out the second floor window on the side of the building.

A second alarm was transmitted at that time. Two 1-3/4-inch and a single 2 1/2-inch hand line were immediately placed into operation to knock down the heavy fire on the first and second floors in a defensive mode.

Engine 2 established a water supply from the hydrant located in front of 27 Clover St. Ladder 1 raised their aerial to the roof and began roof ventilation using a large saw after it was determined that the fire had progressed to of the attic.

Cambridge Engine 9, Ladder 1, Division 2 and Arlington's Engine 2 came to Belmont's assistance once the second alarm was struck. At that time, companies began aggressively attacking the fire from inside the house.

But once there, Belmont Engine 2 crew encountered the main stairway burnt out and the second floor landing had an approximately eight-foot hole, making it impossible to advance their lines to the second floor.

Finding another set of stairs, Cambridge placed a 2 1/2-inch handline onto the second floor and began to make progress knocking down the fire. A third alarm was transmitted as the fire consumed a piece of history in the "Town of Homes."

By the time most people were on their commute to work, Belmont Fire was handling the flare-ups of flames when firefighters exposed the smoldering fire to oxygen as they ripped out walls and ceilings.

It will take a while before an official determination on the cause of the fire. But they noted the structure is a complete loss for both the homeowner – who was a week away from moving into the historic structure after spending a year renovating the structure – and the town.


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