That’s the year the Old Groton Inn, at 128 Main Street in Groton, is believed to have been built.
That’s 98 years before a group of incredible people declared their independence from England on July 4, 1776.
The Old Groton Inn just burned to the ground.
A long-time neighbor of the inn, Joni Parker-Roach, who owns the NOA Gallery just down the street, summed things up perfectly as we both watched this building burn up.
“I feel like I’m watching history go up in flames,” she told me.
Groton Fire got the initial call on this fire at 9:40 p.m. By 10 p.m., when I was driving to the scene, residents of four apartments in back and guests of the inn were being evacuated out the back, according to Groton Fire radio dispatches.
All photos in this entry are by John Love.
By the time I got there at 10:20 or so, the entire second and third floors were in flames. It’s a big building. It was a lot of flames.
Groton Engine 7 reported a man who couldn’t walk was stuck on the first floor about 10 p.m. A few minutes later they reported that they had him out, unharmed.
I found Police Chief Donald Palma at the scene about 10:45 and he said he had heard of no injuries.
“To my knowledge, everyone is out and everyone is OK,” he told me.
Palma said he and other officials were still trying to tally how many people would need Red Cross assistance, and how many people had been in the building.
Fire Chief Joseph Bosselait and his deputy were standing on Main Street directing the effort to put out this fire, which drew help from jakes from as far away as Boxboro, Tyngsboro, and Hollis, N.H., Needless to say they had higher priorities than talking to me at the scene.
A ton of people showed up to watch. I saw several people cry as they did. They said they had no concrete connections to the inn. They just knew what it was.
I talked to James and Claudia Desrosiers, of Groton. James looked up the inn’s 300-year history on a smart phone as we stood there.
“This place has a lot of history, not only for Groton, but for the entire country,” James said. “It’s a piece of history we’re losing tonight.”
“It’s just so sad,” Claudia added.
Joni Parker-Roach told me she thought the reality of what was happening hadn’t really sunk in yet. But she sure was good at expressing it.
“They’re not going to be able to replace this,” she said. “It’s awful. It’s just awful.”
Considering what I often write about here, I’m obviously glad that no one was hurt. But still, 1678. Imagine that.
Now it’s gone.