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Historic Oakhurst Manor in central Massachusetts damaged in early morning fire

Fire damages historic Oakhurst Manor in Northbridge
Fire damages historic Oakhurst Manor in Northbridge 02:13

NORTHBRIDGE - An historic manor in central Massachusetts was severely damaged in an early morning fire Friday.

The fire at Oakhurst Manor on Hill Street in Northbridge started around 1 a.m., according to Fire Chief David White. There were people inside at the time but no one was hurt. There were heavy flames on the second and third floors and WBZ-TV drone video showed most of the roof had collapsed.

The house was built in 1890 by Chester Lasell, the grandson of John Whitin.

"It's sad because this is a big part of our history  It's a Gilded Age mansion and it's the largest of the Whitin mansions. We had nine of them at one point," Chairman of the Northbridge Historical Commission Kenneth Warchol said.  

In the 1970s it became a part of the Worcester Diocese and was used as a treatment center for priests. Now the mansion is currently used as an event venue and arts collaborative. 

White said about seven people were staying there at the time of the fire and have been moved to another building on the property.

"We have several of these types of buildings in town we know about. We train all the time, that's just a constant thing. It's the nature of the game when these catch fire. They're old buildings, the fire has a lot of places to go, a lot of void spaces," White told reporters.

Neighbors are upset about the destruction to the historic building.

"It's just gorgeous woodwork inside. It's just so sad to see it go," one woman said.

It took crews over three hours to put out the fire. There's no word yet on how or where it started, but White said the building is not a total loss and can be rebuilt.

Firefighters at Oakhurst Manor in Northbridge, early Friday morning, March 1, 2024. CBS Boston via Anna Meiler

 Northbridge is about an hour southwest of Boston.

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