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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
New Bedford in Bristol County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
 

Trial by Fire

New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park

 

—National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior —

 
Trial by Fire Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, September 30, 2010
1. Trial by Fire Marker
Inscription. Trial by Fire-During the early hours of January 18, 1977, gas leaked from a cracked main into the cellar of O’Malley’s Tavern, located near where you are now standing. New Bedford had suffered two straight days of record-setting cold in an overall frigid winter. When thermostats clicked on that morning the gas exploded, leveling four buildings and shooting flames and debris throughout the area.

Lost were the three-story tavern, built about 1820, and the Macomber-Sylvia building next to it, which had just been restored and was to be sold that day. The explosion also blew up a building across Johnny Cake Hill and one on William Street, north of the whaling museum, and rocketed a four-ton I-beam and four firefighters across Union Street. Firefighters and gas company crews battled to contain the blaze for more than 12 hours, finally controlling he fire by dusk.

According to Peggi Medeiros, Waterfront Historic Area League (WHALE) Director of Education and Preservation Services, “At 6:45 the roof of the Sundial Building (to your right on the corner) caught fire. When the fire was finally out, most of the roof was gone and one wall was bowing out over North Water Street.”

WHALE, having spent $41,000 to restore the now-lost Macomber-Sylvia building, convinced the city to rebuild the Sundial Building. WHALE raised funds

Trial by Fire Marker image. Click for full size.
By Dale K. Benington, July 30, 2015
2. Trial by Fire Marker
to restore it and then donated the building to New Bedford Whaling Museum. Photos Courtesy WHALE.
 
Location. 41° 38.076′ N, 70° 55.392′ W. Marker is in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in Bristol County. Marker is on Union Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: New Bedford MA 02740, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Twentieth-Century Whaling (here, next to this marker); Captain Paul Cuffe (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Captain Paul Cuffe (a few steps from this marker); Making Room-Johnny Cake Hill (a few steps from this marker); A Tribute of Respect to Enterprising Whalemen (within shouting distance of this marker); The Seamen's Bethel (within shouting distance of this marker); Viking (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Seamen’s Bethel (within shouting distance of this marker). Click for a list of all markers in New Bedford.
 
Categories. Disasters
 
Trial by Fire Marker image. Click for full size.
By Dale K. Benington, July 30, 2015
3. Trial by Fire Marker
Close-up view, that is displayed on the marker, of an aerial photograph, showing the January 18, 1977 multi-alarm fire.
Trial by Fire Marker image. Click for full size.
By Dale K. Benington, July 30, 2015
4. Trial by Fire Marker
Close-up view, that is displayed on the marker, of a photograph, showing the burnt out Sundial Building.
Trial by Fire Marker image. Click for full size.
By Dale K. Benington, July 30, 2015
5. Trial by Fire Marker
Close-up view, that is displayed on the marker, of a photograph, showing the restored Sundial Building.
Trial by Fire Marker image. Click for full size.
By Dale K. Benington, July 30, 2015
6. Trial by Fire Marker
View of the marker next to the "Captain Paul Cuffe" marker, with construction going on in the area behind the markers.
Trial by Fire Marker image. Click for full size.
By Dale K. Benington, July 30, 2015
7. Trial by Fire Marker
View of the marker looking east along Union Street.
Trial by Fire Marker image. Click for full size.
By Dale K. Benington, July 30, 2015
8. Trial by Fire Marker
View of the marker looking west along Union Street.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. This page has been viewed 379 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on , by Dale K. Benington of Toledo, Ohio. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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