December 16th, 2011
I found a whole slew of photos taken during the infamous Worcester State Hospital Kirkbride fire today. The pictures are part of D. M. Wenc’s portfolio which is available here: Worcester State Hospital Fire. They’re part of a series of Massachusetts fire photos Mr. Wenc and his father took in the 1990s. They also have video footage of the conflagration that’s being made into a DVD. The DVD will be for sale at a later date.
There are lots of great photos in this collection. Here are some of my favorites:
- A lone firefighter watches the Kirkbride burn
- Billowing smoke pours out from a ward’s attic
- The rear of the Kirkbride in flames with the Clocktower visible in the distance
- Flames engulf the Kirkbride attic
- Firefighters drenching the building with water
- Dousing the flames
- Flames leap from a turret
- Firefighters continue to drench the building after the fire is mostly extinguished
- Firefighters climb up to the roof
I was particularly struck by that last photo, mainly because I’d never seen that structure before. It looks like a group of enclosed porches with some unusual windows. Those were long gone by the time I visited the building for the first time back in 2001. I’ve never seen them in older photos before either.
I was also a little taken aback by the indifferent and nonchalant expressions on many of the people’s faces. It looks like a lot of them thought the fire wasn’t a big deal. It probably wasn’t to many people. I suppose many thought the building was just an old eyesore. But then again, just because someone’s smiling in a photograph doesn’t mean they were having the time of their lives the entire day.
As beautiful as the photos are, it’s depressing to see these pictures and think about what might have been. If it wasn’t for the fire, the entire Kirkbride might still be perched up there on the hill today.
You can find more photography by D. M. Wenc on his blog: Photography by D. M. Wenc. You can also follow him on Twitter. (Speaking of Twitter, did you know Kirkbride Buildings tweets? As do I, if you’re interested in following me.)
- Worcester State Hospital Fire DVD March 13, 2012
- Fire at Saint Elizabeths July 14, 2010
- Worcester State Hospital Scrapbook September 13, 2008
- Worcester State Hospital Fire February 18, 2009
- Worcester Clock Installation March 6, 2008