50 Years Later

The Hotel Vendome was built as a luxury hotel in 1871 at 160 Commonwealth Ave. In 1972, a large renovation to the building was taking place to convert the hotel into a luxury condos and shop and restaurants. On June 17, 1972 around 2:30pm, a worker noticed a fire between the third and fourth floors and alerted the fire department. According to the Boston Public Library, overall 16 engine companies, 5 ladder companies, 2 aerial towers, and a heavy rescue company responded to the 4-alarm fire. The fire was knocked down by 4:30pm.

“Several crews were at the building doing clean-up at around 5:30pm when the entire southeast corner of the building collapsed without warning, burying 25 firefighters and a ladder truck in a pile of debris. Nine of the firefighters died, making it the greatest loss of life in a single incident in the history of the Boston Fire Department.”

Thousands of firefighters from all over country and Canada came to Boston to pay their respects to the nine men who died in the collapse. Over 10,000 people attended the funeral Mass held at Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

50 years later, on Friday, June 17th, family members of the deceased, firefighters, elected officials and others gathered at a monument on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall that commemorates those who died designed by artists Ted Clausen and Peter White.

The memorial consists of a simple curved granite base with a bronze sculpture of a firefighter’s helmet and jacket draped over the top. The names of the firefighters who lost their lives are inscribed on the granite base along with a description of events on the day of the fire.

Firefighter Thomas W. Beckwith, Engine 32. 35 years old, 6 years with BFD.
Firefighter Joseph F. Boucher, Engine 22. 28 years old, 19 months with BFD.
Lieutenant Thomas J. Carroll, Engine 32. 52 years old, 27 years with BFD.
Firefighter Charles E. Dolan, Ladder 13. 47 years old, 25 years with BFD.
Lieutenant John E. Hanbury, Jr., Ladder 13. 46 years old, 23 years with BFD.
Firefighter John E. Jameson, Engine 22. 52 years old, 21 years with BFD.
Firefighter Richard B. Magee, Engine 33. 39 years old, 4 years with BFD.
Firefighter Paul J. Murphy, Engine 32. 36 years old, 5 years with BFD.
Firefighter Joseph P. Saniuk, Ladder 13. 47 years old, 24 years with BFD.

Keep the BFD and their families in your thoughts and prayers. And if you see a firefighter, thank them for their service.

The Boston Globe has a great profile on the Vendome anniversary that you can read here!

Main image via Boston Globe


  1. mplo June 20, 2022 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    I remember reading/hearing about the demolition of the Hotel Vendome due to a massive fire! That was really scary. My thoughts and condolences are with the friends and loved ones of the firefighters who perished while fighting this horrific fire. They all died quite young, which makes it especially sad.

  2. Rev. Francis X. McGerity June 24, 2022 at 3:05 am - Reply

    I come from a family of Fire Fighters: my late Father and late Uncle for Boston and and late Uncle from Malden. I remember well the Hotel Vendome Fire and how it affected them on many levels. So many young firefighters at one time with young spouses/families. I can still see the caskets lined up inside Holy Cross Cathedral. Everyone turned out from both Boston and beyond. So the next time you see a Firefighter anywhere PLEASE thank them for their SERVICE. They too PROTECT and SERVE! Also remember their families. I am looking forward very much to a new BFD Commissioner. PS: I am from Southie and my Father (d.2014) at 93, served at Engine 2 Ladder 19.

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