Lightning sent bricks flying from atop historic Fields Corner building

By 
Elizabeth Murray, Special to The Reporter
Jul. 19, 2012

Arcadia Street building hit by lightning: Sent bricks flyingArcadia Street building hit by lightning: Sent bricks flyingA lightning strike sent masonry flying from the top of a historic Fields Corner building on Wednesday afternoon.

The building was struck at around 5 p.m., according to Donna Finnegan, the CEO of the Fields Corner Development Corporation (CDC), whose offices are located inside the three-story brick building on Arcadia Street. The strike blew a number of bricks off the chimney.

Fragments of brick were still strewn all around the public parking lot right next to the building on Thursday morning. Finnegan noted that some brick pieces “went flying all the way across the street.”

“A couple of the employees were still here,” said Finnegan, who had just left the office for the day. “One of them was standing at the copy machine, she said, and all of a sudden she heard this loud pop, and of course, everything went out.”

Robyn Murphy, a rental clerk at Arcadia Management, which is housed inside the same building, was inside at the time. Her first reaction was to run into the Fields Corner CDC office.

“I was actually making coffee and I head a sizzling sound and a big boom, and I went running,” Murphy said.

Murphy said she called the property manager and Finnegan right away. An electrician responded quickly to ensure no electrical damage had occurred.

No one was hurt in the incident. The power and Internet went out but are now up and running again and the phones were reprogrammed.

Finnegan said she has also been in contact with a contractor and structural engineer to assess the outer damage to the building and with the tenants who rent apartments in the upper portion of the building. She’s also consulted with insurance companies and with Mayor Thomas Menino’s Neighborhood Coordinator Chris English.

“The building was checked out before people could stay in it,” Finnegan said. “The [worker] that was out here, he said half the shingles are missing up there now too.

“And that crack is what’s scaring me,” she added. “Exploded, imploded, whatever it did. It just went everywhere.”

The building itself is on the National Register of Historic Places. Finnegan said it was first a police station and then a library before it became the Fields Corner CDC headquarters. The top floors are rented to tenants while the first floor is for commercial businesses, and the old jail cells still are located in the basement, she added.

Finnegan said the chimney would be fixed. However, they have to make sure it is re-done the way it was made originally, she said.

“Somebody [in the office] said, ‘Well, just take that down, you don’t need it,’” Finnegan said. “I said, ‘You can’t take that down. It’s part of the building!”