The stately mansion that went up in flames Friday in Concord, Massachusetts, was built by a man who served as secretary of the U.S. Navy and was descended from two U.S. presidents, according to historical documents.
Charles Francis Adams III built the classical revival home at 240 Fairhaven Hill Rd. that on Friday was consumed by a massive fire that firefighters struggled to put out.
According to a Massachusetts Historical Commission document, Adams called the estate "Mt. Vernon," the name of President George Washington's famed Virginia estate. Adams himself was a descendant of presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams and served as secretary of the Navy under President Herbert Hoover.
Before his time in national politics, Adams served two terms as mayor of Quincy and was then appointed treasurer of Harvard University, a role he served in for more than 30 years, according to the document. A year after joining Harvard, he married the daughter of a congressman from Taunton and built the home in Concord.
They kept the home for the early part of the 20th century, according to the Massachusetts Historical Commission.
The H.D. Hale-designed home on 27 acres by the Sudbury River is significant as one of Concord's largest riverfront estates, and one of the town's first two estates not associated with farming, the document notes.
It's described as having on its rear facade a "colossal tetrastyle Ionic portico, a full two stories in height, which can be seen for a considerable distance from across the river."
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That portico was filled with flames Friday as the fire worked its way through the building. In the aftermath, the roof was almost completely destroyed, most of the walls blackened, most windows blown out and the building gutted.
Firefighters haven't said what caused the devastating blaze, which remains under investigation. No one was hurt, despite the difficulty firefighters had in bringing in water to battle the flames.
Concord's fire chief said the neighborhood is served by a nearly 100-year-old water service, so fire crews — over a dozen local departments responded to the blaze — had to call in several fire tankers and lay a fire hydrant supply line from a nearby road.
A family friend of the current owners, who didn't return a message left at their phone number, told NBC10 Boston that the residents had recently hosted an annual Christmas Eve party and people either doing work at the home or cleaning it Friday smelled smoke and called 911.
Recent property records had valued the home at nearly $3 million.