Broiled lobster: James Hook & Co. goes up in flames

Fire destroys landmark seafood business in Boston; Atlantic Avenue shut, Purchase Street exit on I-93 closed. Seven-alarm fire.

NECN reports 60,000 pounds of lobster charred; has interview with fire official on why it was so difficult to put the fire out; says the fourth generation of Hooks vow to rebuild rather than sell out to developers.

Greg MacKay posts another view and sighs: "Goodbye Old Friend."

The company's unique weathervane:

lobster weathervane



Free tagging: 


Oh, no!

By Rhea on

This is terrible. As a Boston history lover, I am shocked. I don't even know what to say. When a venerable enterprise like this disappears, the whole city loses something special.

So Sad...

By on

I could smell the smoke from the fire this morning at South Station. My heart broke when I heard the news. My heart goes out to the Hook employees and family.

Either that, or

standard issue masshole cigarette disposal method - flung in random direction, still flaming.

I thought about this this morning when I passed the memorial to that firefighter who died in 1994 while fighting a dockside warehouse fire.

Very sad ... but the place is a classic dockside firetrap like the Tea Party Gift Shop all the same. It couldn't have taken much.

Great Place

By on

Sorry to see this. My Dad and I bought many lobsters there through the years. Good people.

I rather doubt it was started by a cigarette. Cigarette fires, to the best of my knowledge, are usually caused in cases where something HIGHLY combustible is involved, and the cigarette is in immediate contact; stuff like mattresses, dryer lint, old paint rags, perhaps some fuel source. I think it would take an army of lit cigarettes to torch a building like that, even if it was mostly old wood. Just my semi-informed two cents.



By on

You mean tanks full of ice and water don't just up and catch on fire?

Flammable material

By on

I'm betting on an electrical problem, but in the NECN report, the fire guy says the place was pretty much filled to the rafters with cardboard boxes (and that one of the problems they had putting out the fire was the metal roof collapsed right on top of them, so it basically shielded the flames from the water).


By on

can't help but think so. look at it, dwarfed by all that flash real estate.
hope the new place, if there is one, looks exactly like the old. except maybe brick.

Was there last week

By on

I was there on Saturday, May 24, 2008. It was a last minute but fateful decision. I am from NJ and actually thought about moving to Boston just so I can be closer to this place. If anyone came by that day around noon, I was the guy sitting outside with my wife and best friend eating a 8.5lb lobster. I was still contemplating on if I should get t-shirts as souvenirs. I figure I would be coming from Jersey between every 2 weeks to a month. So I would come back in June to get them. REGRET. TOTAL REGRET.

I shook hand with one of the brothers who work there. They were so friendly. They treat their customers as if they are their friends. They let us walk alone around the back to take a look at the lobster tanks. I remember clearly that there are 3 levels of tubs all full of water.

I will take that bet on arson because I heard they were offered $32 million, which they turned down. Why would a place go on fire in the middle of the night near a dock? No, I don't think a lobster was having a smoke.

I suggest that we get together and find a way to help rebuild this great business!

Dockside Tinderboxes

Why would a place go on fire in the middle of the night near a dock?

Careless smoking near combustables
Electrical system issues with pumps, refrigeration equipment
Electrical and fuel systems on interior vehicles (forklifts, hoists, etc.)
Appliances and motors overheating

Anybody know what the causes of the Tea Party Ship Gift Shop fires were? I suspect that similar issues of construction, location, and age apply.

Dock buildings are famous for fantastic conflagrations. Near where I work, there is a memorial plaque for a firefighter killed in a 1994 dockside warehouse fire that shut down the major northbound highways and went to general alarm as I recall. Most of these buildings are tinderboxes on stilts, and there would be more of them if so many hadn't burned down over the years. Wood construction, oiled floors and beams, no fire walls, creosoted timbers, lots of boxes, etc. Mills on the water, really.

Anybody know what the causes

By on

Anybody know what the causes of the Tea Party Ship Gift Shop fires were? I suspect that similar issues of construction, location, and age apply.

First was a lighting strike, The second was work on the congress street bridge (sparks from welding).

As for Hook, shouldn't we blame this on Peter Pan?

Just an old building

By on

Old places that have been grand fathered in when it comes to codes tend to go up in smoke at some point or another. Old wooden building, most likely beat up by all the salt in the air near the ocean, card board boxes all over, and god knows what else it had going against it.

Before fire fighting became a serious issue, and before modern fire codes it wasnt uncommon to have fires like this take out several blocks around them as well.

Even if it were arson Im sure it wouldnt have been that hard to start the fire with all the conditions being so ripe. The good news is it seemed to have happened when noone was around which means there was no loss of life. It sounds like they want to rebuild so Im sure they will take their insurance money, maybe kick in a few extra bucks and rebuild it. Of course they will have to follow the new fire ordinances, but Im sure the city will give them a break on things like side yard set backs because they had a prexisting structure that was already in conflict with local zoning laws that was demolished due to a fire (as opposed to them taking it down and putting up a new restaurant in its place themselves.)

I'm all for it, as long as

By on

I'm all for it, as long as they provide a deck to continue the harbor walk!

Maybe the city could even give them some incentives to rebuild, and include that.

imagine having the harbor walk right through there, with a deck for the restaurant set off further back a little bit. I'm sure it be better for the pickup buissness!

The bridge

By on

Unfortunately, the Seaport Blvd bridge will still interrupt the harbor walk. It's too low to the water. You've got to walk up all the way to Atlantic Ave between the hotel and Hook, and I don't see any way to make the walk go under that low bridge. That interruption looks to be fairly permanent.

Although they're rarely

By on

Although they're rarely used, how about a pedestrian foot bridge?

If you make it Functionally and ascetically attractive enough, it might be used more often then the crosswalk. It would also give better views of the channel and harbor.

The good news is it seemed

By on

The good news is it seemed to have happened when noone was around which means there was no loss of life.

No loss of life? What about the 60,000 pounds worth of lobsters?

On the plus side, those firefighters surely had a good feast afterwards. :-)

Now, anyone know if they

By on

Now, anyone know if they we're able to save the gold weathervain?

heard it was worth a pretty penny, but more over was a hallmark of the building and area.


By on

Not sure but it was gone when I went down there at 3:30 Today,.
Who Knows if it toppled in the fire of if someone Saved (or perhaps stole ) it.

We will have to check the newspapers on Saturday / Sunday / Monday.

This hurts.

By on

I checked the headlines this AM on my PinkBerry at the bus stop and collapsed into a seat upon reading this.
Even 3500 miles away it's painful - maybe even more painful - since getting a decent lobster out here is too much like work. It's one of those places you just assume will outlive you and when it doesn't....

'It's like a kick in the gut.'

By on

When Miss Von Schtoop was a teenager, she worked at Neptune Lobster (where the Barking Crab is now) and she recalls James Hook:

... Anyway, most afternoons and on the weekends it was me n' Kimmmmmay hanging out and waiting for the lobster boats to come in to the docks behind Neptune. Then to kill the time between customers, we would grab the grotty old binocs and scope out the BOYYYYSSSS who worked at James Hook. ...

My heart is broken for the Hook family and co workers

By on

My heart aches today. But, I was so glad to read that our Mayor Menino is going to help the Hook family, if there is any good that can come from this, it is that the Hook family will see and know how much they are loved by our city. I see so many people who care with great sympathy and want to help the Hook family. I hope they rebuild on the same site, I have known this site for over 30 years, sadly I too think it was arson.
My best to the Hook family and co workers, and to Mayor Menino. This is a true landmark to me as well as the city of Boston,
They should rebuild.
Thoughts will stay with you, as I work just a mile down the road on Seaport Ave.