Four-alarm fire damages 1920s historic building in Quincy

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QUINCY, Mass. (AP) - Fire heavily damaged the historic 1920s neoclassical Masonic Temple building in downtown Quincy on Monday, destroying photographs and other artifacts.

Fire Chief Joseph Barron said the four-alarm fire started around noon when workmen were in the basement.

Quincy real estate executive Leo Martin recently agreed to buy the building. He tells the Patriot Ledger the fire started when two of his employees were "grinding out a heat line" when insulation caught fire. No injuries were reported.

David Elsner, head of the Masonic Temple Association of Quincy, said the Rural Lodge of Masons has occupied the building since it was finished in 1926. He said the lodge has about 400 members.

Elsner told the Ledger that Martin had plans to rehabilitate the temple and allow the masons to continue using it.

"All our history is gone," Elsner said.

Lodge member Jim Bennette of Weymouth told called the building "an architectural jewel." The 21,653 square-foot building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

"We love this building," he said. "We care about this building. It's a great loss for the whole city and the South Shore."

Traffic was diverted as smoke poured from the Hancock Street building before the fire was contained Monday afternoon.