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Fire ravages Jacob Wirth building - again

Firefighters attack Jacob Wirth fire from ladders

Firefighters attack Jacob Wirth fire. Photo by Smith.

Boston firefighters responded to the Jacob Wirth building, 37 Stuart St., around 11 p.m. on Monday for what turned into a four-alarm fire extending across all three floors.

The fire came as the building's current owners were slowly renovating the historic tavern, which had been shut since a fire in the building's upper floors in 2018 sent water cascading into the restaurant and bar. A group affiliated with City Realty bought the building in February, 2023, and won approval in December to convert the upper two floors into four apartments.

Firefighters look at remains of the building from neighboring garage (photo by BFD):

Firefighters look at roof with new holes in it

The Boston Fire Department estimated damage at $3 million. It reports no injuries.

Firefighters attacked the fire from the street, from a neighboring parking garage and the rear (photo by BFD):

Firefighters pour water on building

Jacob Wirth started selling his own beer in 1868 - in a building across the street from the current location.

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Comments

n/t

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41

Burning a dwelling in Massachusetts, If someone is found guilty of Arson in the state of Massachusetts , that defendant shall be imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 10 years or in a Jail or a house of Correction for not more than 2 1/2 years.

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16

Stuart Street remains shut

Photo by Sam Greenblatt.

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30

I had some beer there back when that was one of the edges of "The Combat Zone". Definitely had that 1868 Wild West vibe going on in there. The wood plank floor, the huge bar with the brass foot railing. The only things that were missing were sawdust on the floors and spittoons at every bar stool. Great memories.

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18

But the troubled finances indicated by the repeated re-opening announcements and the long delay in reopening plus the vastly higher value of the ground if the landmark was removed would be good (evil) reasons for a torch job.

Arson squad should look closely.

BPDA should interrogate any new plans.

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79

I agree the arson squad should look closely and charge/force sale in the event it was torched, but...

Once that's settled out one way or the other, the BPDA should embrace more aggressive redevelopment of the site.

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24

Landmark designation aside, any redevelopment of the site would be limited to below 100' since Avalon owns the air rights to that parcel.

Given the rate environment and where we are in the business cycle, I'd say there's a good chance we're looking at a multi-year hole-in-the-ground situation unless this is all a terrible accident, insurance covers everything, and current ownership wants to pick right back up where things left off. And if that were the case, they would probably have been pouring beer months ago.

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25

With the site not needing to be preserved, Avalon might just want to buy the lot and build themselves. Alternatively, not a stretch to think they'd cash out and sell back the rights.

It will be interesting to see if the fire is officially labeled as arson.

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25

Talk about Air Rights , up to 32 stories is acceptable for that block of Stuart Street , Hotels are still in demand in that area . 61 story John Handcock type of building is prohibited.

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19

The land the AVA is built on used to be Jake Wirth’s parking lot. When they sold that land to Avalon, they sold it with a permanent easement that limits any future building on the Wirth site to below 100’.

It's a private agreement and unless Avalon wanted to sell back the rights, there’s no way anybody can ever build higher on that site.

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17

Might be some shenanigans there, too

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20

Obviously , there is a high rise apartment building next door from this historic restaurant, hmm.. even the three stooges can figure this one out, why can’t we do the same thing they probably ask the Boston redevelopment authority , well they say , you can’t because it’s on the city’s registry of historic buildings list, and owners say “well how can we get rid of this headache in order to build a high rise and make millions.

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Statement from the Jacob Wirth Realty Trust (i.e., the City Realty folks involved in the project):

We’re heartbroken over the fire that occurred late last evening. We’ve been working diligently to restore this landmark building, first opened in 1868, to continue the great legacy of Jacob Wirth for future generations. We are deeply thankful to the Boston Fire Department for its fast response, and beyond grateful no one was injured.

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23

Corporations are people, my friend.

/s

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27

I bet any money that the owner will have it knocked down and then sell to a major developer for ten’s of millions of dollars .

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26

The owner is a developer.

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20

Not a good sign.

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33

I get that the local, network/cable corporate press in the advertising and entertainment business, that and being the mouthpiece for city and state, but c’mon! It’s “safe” to report “what” of fire, but has any fancy network/cable news reader ever followed up on the possibly boring, or possibly disturbing official investigations into the “why” or confirm if there even are investigations- let alone beat the pavement? Thx to Universal Hub for being a local regularly updated site of news!!!