Fourteen years ago Monday — on a day as bitterly cold as Jan. 15, 2018 — the landscape of downtown Bangor was permanently altered, when the Masonic Hall caught fire and burned in spectacular fashion for nearly 24 hours, with the remains of the building encased in thick, crystalline ice.
The photos of the ice-covered building were published in newspapers across the country and the globe, as far away as Russia and Japan. The Bangor Daily News captured a number of evocative images of the destruction.
All that remains today of the building, built in 1870, is a vacant lot between Water Street and the building that houses Zen and Thai Siam. Before the fire, it housed the city’s Masonic lodges and related organizations, a learning center for children with dyslexia, Yankee Shoe Repair and River City Gallery.
It’s hard to imagine that there was a building there, at this point.
Investigators never discovered the cause of the blaze, which began the evening of Thursday, Jan. 15, 2004, and involved firefighters from Bangor and four other local departments.
Burned into people’s minds, however, are the images from the blaze. Due to the sub-zero temperatures, once water hit the building, it began to freeze. With nearly 5 million gallons of water sprayed over the course of 24 hours, the building became encased in ice nearly a foot thick in some spots.
Bangor’s Masonic Hall is now located on the grounds of the old Bangor Theological Seminary on Union Street. Yankee Shoe Repair and River City Gallery did not reopen.
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Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the new location of the Masonic Hall. It moved to the grounds of the old Bangor Theological Seminary on Union Street. The Anah Shriners Hall is on Outer Broadway.