Nothing left of historic Dublin home after fire

DUBLIN — The town lost one of its oldest and most historic homes, the Hidaway Farm at 154 Burpee Rd., on Wednesday night in a blaze that brought the structure to the ground. The home was built in the late 1700s and is believed to have been one of the locations Transcendentalist philosopher Henry David Thoreau passed on his way to Mount Monadnock in 1852.

Jade Nguyen and her boyfriend, Kevin Michaud, who have rented the house together since June 1, 2012, were away at the time of the fire, but Nguyen told the Ledger-Transcript on Monday that she lost three dogs and two cats who were inside. “All the material items can be repurchased, but my dogs and cats lives will never come back,” Nguyen said.

Homeowner Scott Swanson, a Peterborough architect, said Friday that the property has been in his family since 1969 and that he fondly remembers the many summers he spent in Dublin with his parents and two siblings as a child. “Because I spent so many years there as a kid, the land and the whole place holds a lot of sentimentality for me. It’s hard to lose a place that meant so much and it’s impossible to replace,” he said.

The cause of the fire is unknown, said Dublin Fire Chief Thomas Vanderbilt on Friday. “We don’t know when it started and we can’t give a definitive answer on what caused it,” he said. “It does not appear to be suspicious.”

Firefighters responded to the fire at approximately 10 p.m. on Wednesday and were on scene for approximately three hours, Vanderbilt said. All that was standing when firefighters arrived at 154 Burpee Rd. was the chimney to the home.

“Some nearby trees were still burning and the fire had spread into the field,” Vanderbilt said. “The house is a total loss.”

Because the house is located on a dead-end road, Vanderbilt said, no one saw the fire blazing. Once Nguyen reported the fire to emergency authorities, it was too late.

Nguyen said she came home from work at approximately 2 p.m. Wednesday, took her dogs outside for a few minutes and then left soon after to attend a birthday celebration for her mom. Nearly eight hours later, Nguyen said she returned home to find nothing left of the two-story structure and her belongings but smoldering ash and a chimney.

As news of the fire reached those in the community, Nguyen said so many people have reached out to offer their support through financial and clothing donations. “A very wonderful friend of mine set up the Harper Fund for us, which is named after one of our dogs,” Nguyen said, referring to the Jennifer Baron Harper Fund established at TD Bank on Thursday. “I can’t thank everybody enough for all they’ve done.”

The home at 154 Burpee Rd., known in recent years as Hidaway Farm, was first built around 1789 and believed to be the second oldest house still standing in Dublin, according to Swanson. In 1986, nearly 20 years after his parents purchased the property, Swanson said his family built a barn adjacent to the house.

But throughout its history in town, the farm has taken on a number of different titles depending on who was living there. Prior to when Henry David Thoreau passed by the farm on his way to Mount Monadnock, the house would have been known as Snow Cottage or Samuel Snow Farm. In the mid-1800s, Abbott Bowman Burpee, who was known for his celery, eggs, apples and course cider, purchased the former Snow property in the mid-1800s, according to “Monadnock Summer: The Architectural Legacy of Dublin, New Hampshire,” by William Morgan.

“My understanding is that people knew Adam Burpee’s farm was hid away under the mountain,” Swanson said, referring to recent years when the property was coined Hidaway Farm. “We’ve always known it as Hidaway Farm.”

Swanson and his two siblings inherited the farm in 1995, after the death of his father. Swanson said he lived at the house from 2005 until mid-2012 when he rented it to Nguyen and Michaud.

Thinking about how much personal history was lost in the fire is devastating, Swanson said. While rebuilding on the property is a possibility, he said it is too soon after the tragic fire to say definitively what will happen.

“We are certainly planning to keep the property in the family and pass it on to our own children, though,” Swanson said.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

I remember that home well. As a youth I was part of the Fresh Air Fund. The Swanson family and I spent a few summers together. I have many good stories to share about those summers. Scott and Chip were awesome friends. I'm sorry to have read about their home. Somehow I feel like I've lost a part of my past. Much time has gone by since, but I pray for their loss.

Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.