Historic fire

The article here was found in the March 13, 1975 Springfield Reporter. I don’t remember the fire, but Ted Spaulding does. Peter Farrar told me there was a picture of the house and some history in Child’s 1883 Gazetteer. I include that engraving and history from Child’s.

In the Child’s section, you will read about the widow furnishing “the accompanying engraving of the place…” The engraving included with this article is what she provided for Child’s 1883 book. Notice the stonewalls in front of the house. Beautiful scene, isn’t it? The Vermont I’ve been looking for.

Chandler-Healy place. Engraving from the 1883 Child's Gazetteer. Photo provided
Chandler-Healy place. Engraving from the 1883 Child’s Gazetteer. Photo provided

  Springfield Reporter March 13, 1975

“Mystery still surrounds the destruction by fire of one of Chester’s oldest homesteads, construction of which dates back to the early 1830’s. The remains of the old stone home in the Chandler District, owned by Mrs. Agnes Healey, which housed some priceless antiques, ends a history that began with the name Thomas Chandler, one of Chester’s early settlers, who played an important part in the early history and founding of Chester,

“Early records of the town history indicate that the first three settled families were awarded 500 acres of land, with 1,500 going to Thomas Chandler, and his two sons, Thomas Jr. and John, as early as 1763. This land made up the Chandler District, upon which the old stone homestead was later constructed of gneiss stone quarried in the area.

“The homestead was handed down to Chandler heirs until 1921 when it passed down to a family of native Vermonters.

“Purchased in 1955 by Patrick and Agnes Healey, the historic structure is one of the several old stone homes for which Chester is so well known.

“Still under the investigation by Joseph Cioffi, state police fire investigator it appears to be suspicious that the fire may have been set to cover up the priceless antiques. Lost in the early morning blaze were valuable paintings and two pianos that were family heirlooms.

“The fire was discovered shortly after 4 a.m. Friday morning by pilot of a mail plane flying over the area. When firemen from Springfield and Chester arrived at the scene, the main house was consumed in flames. Firemen were able to keep it from spreading to the wooden ell. The ell and the tall chimney and fireplace is all that remains of the 150 year old structure.

“Fire Chief ‘Hap’ Damore of Chester said that it was necessary to get water from a brook nearby.

“No one was home and the house had been closed for the winter. Mrs. Healey and her sister were in South Carolina.

“Rumors that a car bearing New Hampshire plates was in the vicinity that morning were not confirmed.”

  Child’s Gazetteer

From the 1883 Child’s Gazetteer of Windsor County is the engraving you see here along with this history:

“William Chandler, son of Willard, was born on the homestead, on road 10, now occupied by John A., April 4, 1798. He married Louisa Ellison and reared seven children, viz: Charles E., Aurilla M., Angelica L., (Mrs. David Hazelton, of Worcester, Mass.) Adoniram J., a Baptist clergyman of Clinton, Conn.; John A., Gilbert R., who died in 1855, and William, also deceased. Charles E. married Georgiana Whitcomb of Springfield. And has reared five children, as follows: Henry E., Nora G., Helen W., Grace M., and Eddie, of whom the latter died in 1872. Four now reside on the homestead, which was built in the spring of 1857, a substantial stone structure, located two and one-half miles from Gassetts Station, and the same distance from North Springfield. William Chandler was an industrious farmer, a good citizen, and greatly esteemed by all who knew him. His widow residing with her son John A., on the homestead, at the age of seventy-six years, and who furnished the accompanying engraving of the place, retains an interest in the estate.”

  From Ted Spaulding

This house was at the corner of Chandler Road and Baltimore Road.  The Healy’s lived there.  He was a lawyer from New York City. It was burned flat. The home was furnished with valuable antiques and paintings.  When they went through the ashes, they found no evidence of the furniture.  It was thought that robbers broke in, stole the antiques and then set fire to the house.  Ted knows of no one ever being charged with setting the fire or robbery.

  This week’s old saying is from Henry: “When we were little kids, I was the one your mother wouldn’t let you play with.”

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