An ornate mansion with several elaborate, cascading garden terraces used to stand where 45 Terrace Hall Ave. is today, next to the Francis Wyman Elementary School exit. Across the street was an elaborate garden with a manufactured pond containing a duck castle. There’s still a clearance next to the current DPW facility.
In 1940, while serving as elderly housing, it burned to the ground. Everyone escaped, according to Lotta Dunham’s History of Burlington. Marion Braley of Dearborn Rd., 97, a volunteer for the Red Cross at the time, ran all the way from her house to the fire and helped carry water to the firefighters along a human daisy chain. The burnt wreckage remained for many years, becoming a local “haunted house” of sorts.
Catastrophic fires marred early Burlington, what with flammable materials everywhere, primitive heating methods and virtually no fire department. Burlington repeatedly lost its town records and photos, and historic properties — even its Town Hall and the Sewall house on its town seal — to fires. On the other hand, the town once celebrated each Independence Day with a massive bonfire near the common, using a massive tower of criss-crossed railroad ties. So call it a love-hate relationship with fire.