It was 77 years ago this week that the Beacon Hill Golf Clubhouse burned in an early morning fire that attracted hundreds of residents from throughout the area to watch.
The fire was well underway when it was first noticed by a Leonardo resident at shortly after 6 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, 1944, when the resident noticed smoke and flames coming from the area. The Brevent Park, Leonardo and Community fire departments responded but were unable to save the building, which was already completely engulfed by the time they were notified and arrived.
James Small, the golf pro and manager since 1926, lived a half mile from the golf club and later said he thought the cause, which was undetermined, could have been due to a short circuit.
While fighting the fire, Robert Delade and Henry Sage, both Leonardo firemen, were slightly injured, Delade with a head injury when champagne bottles exploded from the heat of the fire. Sage suffered a cut on his next.
Beacon Hill had started more than 40 years prior, with a small building closer to the road. In 1928, construction began on the large clubhouse in the southwest corner of the property and it was enlarged and altered three years later when both a cocktail lounge and a trophy room were added. Most of the trophies were destroyed in the blaze as well as golf clubs and personal belongings in the lockers of club members.:
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From the Beacon Hill website:
“On September 13, 1944 a fire completely destroyed the club house. Fortunately, some of the members were able to acquire an old barracks building from Fort Hancock at Sandy Hook which was erected at the present clubhouse site and renovated to accommodate kitchen services and social events.”
For more on the history of the club, visit: the Beacon Hill Country Club website