Article From the
Flames are visible through the framework of the Flyer Comet roller coaster
at Whalom Park Saturday night. (SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / ROBERT BURNS) Fire
destroys Whalom ballroom
By Benjamin Cole
LUNENBURG -- A three-alarm fire late Saturday, deemed suspicious by
officials, destroyed the historic 70-year-old ballroom at Whalom Park.
Arson investigators called the park a crime scene yesterday and officials
from the state fire marshal's office are expected to continue searching for
a cause today, according to published reports.
The Lunenburg Fire Department responded to multiple calls reporting the
blaze around 11 p.m. Saturday. On arrival, firefighters found the ballroom
and restaurant fully engulfed in flames, fire officials said.
Twelve engines and three ladder companies from Lunenburg, Fitchburg,
Leominster, Shirley and Townsend fought and quickly contained a blaze that
could have easily spread to the many nearby wooden structures at the former
amu***t park, including the park's signature Flyer Comet roller coaster,
which stands less than 10 yards away from the ballroom. The coaster was
reportedly scorched by the flames.
The Ashby and Ayer Fire Departments covered the Lunenburg station during the
The fire was under control by 11:37 p.m., but firefighters remained on the
scene throughout the night.
"Indications are it's suspicious," Lunenburg Fire Chief Dennis M. Carrier
told the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester Sunday.
There were no injuries as a result of the fire.
During the Big Band era, the Whalom ballroom was a popular dance hall; top
local orchestras and big-name entertainers performed there over the course
of many years. In 1963, the banquet hall was set up to cater meals for large
The Whalom Amu***t Park was one of the last remaining 19th-century trolley
parks in the nation. It had been in continuous seasonal operation for 107
years before for the 2001 season, when for the first time in its history,
the park did not open.
In January, an unnamed buyer signed a purchase and sale agreement with
Whalom Amu***t Park Co. to develop the land, but likely not as an
Despite the purported sale, efforts to raise money to save the park have
been continued by Allyson C. Bowen of Westminster, whose family owned a
majority interest in the park for 60 years.