Chelsea, CT Fire, Nov 1793


Nov. 26, 1793, fifteen buildings were destroyed by fire in Chelsea, viz., the Congregational meeting-house, four dwelling-houses, six stores and shops, and four barns.

This was the largest fire ever known in Norwich. It raged from six to ten o'clock P. M., wind fresh from the north-west. It broke out in a store belonging to Messrs. Hubbard & Greene, of Boston, and was supposed to have been communicated through a fissure in the chimney to some paper-rags piled against it. This building stood on Water street, nearly in the range of the present post-office, and the fire swept away every thing combustible from thence to the junction of Main street, and crossing that street, consumed the large store of Levi Huntington, full of goods, the Congregational meeting-house,* and every building on that side from thence to the river, except the old Norman house, now Thames hotel. Even the woods over the river caught fire from the flaming cinders, and added to the splendor of the conflagration. The dwelling-houses of Lynde M'Curdy, Levi Huntington, and Benadam Denison, and stores occupied by Capt. William Coit, Coit & Lathrop, Andrew & Joseph Perkins, Hezekiah Perkins & Co., George Cleveland, and that of Levi Huntington before mentioned, were destroyed. Two persons were badly wounded.

Most of the buildings were old and comparatively of small value, and a large portion of the goods was saved; but there was no insurance on any of the property. There was at this time a fire-engine of small power in Norwich, which was brought out on this occasion, but the hose broke at the first trial, and little could be done to arrest the flames. Loss estimated at £8,000, ---a small sum compared with the extent of the fire.

* Rev. Mr. King rushed into the burning church and brought out the pulpit Bible, a folio edition that had been recently purchased.
-  Mr. Huntington rebuilt his house over the old cellar; it was afterward known as the Bolles tavern, and is still extant.

History of Norwich, Connecticut : from its possession by the Indians to the year 1866
New London, 1874, page 552