March 25, 2002
Lunenburg, MA – Four teenagers were charged with setting a fire that destroyed the historic ballroom at Whalom Park three weeks ago. The four boys age 15 and three age 16 will likely face charges of arson and vandalism to be filed in Fitchberg Juvenile Court.
Police allege that the four teens broke into several buildings at the park setting fires in many them. Several sufferred minor damage, but the park's historic ballroom became engulfed and was completely destroyed. Damage was estimated at more than $500,000.
Investigators from several state agencies were called to the scene to investigate the fire. Two days after the blaze investigators determined arson to be the cause.
The team of investigators quickly ruled out many possible causes and based their decision in part because of the suspicious, smaller fires set in the park's other buildings.
According to Fire Marshall Stephen D. Coan the break in the case came after a tip was received on the state's Arson Hotline.
"The successful conclusion of their investigation was a result of information received on this Arson Hotline," said Coan. "This shows how important community involvement is in solving the serious crime of arson."
More than 90 firefighters had to be called to the scene to fight the blaze that Saturday evening. Fortunately, no one was injured and the fire was kept from spreading to the surrounding structures.
The ballroom at Whalom Park, built in 1933, boasted the largest dance floor in New England and hosted some of the big bands of the past. It's loss is significant to the amusement park and the community as well.
Whalom Park, closed after the end of the 2000 season, is presently for sale by its current owners. The majority of the shareholders are looking for a developer to purchase the property, but one of the minority owners is fighting to save it.
The Bowen family who owns a minority stake is representing a group of private investors who want purchase the park. The family led by Allyson Bowen has set up a web site www.savewhalompark.com to generate capital and widespread support from the community.
Bowen hopes that she and her investors will be able to purchase the park and preserve it as a classic amusement park.
Suspicious Fire Destroys Historic Whalom Park Ballroom March 4, 2002
Public Called Upon To Help Save Whalom Park January 21, 2002