55 years ago this New Year’s Eve, a devastating fire in Hartford made headlines around the world. The ornate Cathedral of St. Joseph, the mother church of the Archdiocese of Hartford, was destroyed by fire. Shockingly, it happened the day after another fire nearly destroyed St. Patrick’s Church, now called St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church.
This Sunday on Face the State, we will show you spectacular, rare film from the Channel 3 archives shot on December 31, 1956. Channel 3 didn’t go on the air until September of 1957, so the origin of the film is unknown. We can tell you the film aired in 1962 as part of a special commemorating the consecration of the new cathedral, which opened on May 15, 1962.
The special was narrated by Ross Miller and features a report on the fire from Ed Anderson, who was live on the scene for WTIC radio, which back then was part of the Channel 3 family. In Sunday’s flashback, you’ll see vintage clips of inside the cathedral before the fire, firefighters battling the stubborn blaze, onlookers in shock, Archbishop Henry O’Brien talking to reporters, and the subsequent rebuilding.
Worshippers at a morning mass on New Year’s Eve ’56 smelled smoke, but firefighters couldn’t locate the fire right away. By the time they did, the flames were out of control and destroyed the rare wood carvings inside the church. Due to the fact it happened right after the St. Patrick’s fire, arson was suspected, but no one was ever charged. Ed Anderson’s report talks about beefed up security by HPD at churches across the city.
You can watch the flashback this Sunday morning at 11 on Face the State, only on Channel 3.
UPDATE Here is the link to the video: http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=6594700
and here is another report with reflections from Monsignor John McCarthy