A historic building in Woolwich was destroyed by fire early Monday morning.

The 2½-story home at 34 Hall Road, which was occupied by a married couple and their dog, was engulfed in flames by the time the first firefighting crews arrived shortly after 5 a.m.

The couple and the dog made it out safely, but the damage was so extensive that the town’s fire department had to bring in an excavator on Monday afternoon to tear down the building, which dates to the early 20th century.

Formerly known as Sebenoa Hall, the structure was dedicated in 1908 and served as a dance hall and social center for Bath-area residents, many of whom took a ferry across the Kennebec River to reach the venue, according to the Woolwich Historical Society.

In the 1940s, the building was sold to a private party and was used over the years as a place to store rental equipment and antique cars.

“It was the town’s last social hall. Now it’s gone,” said Debbie Locke, president of the historical society. “Most of the people who used it are dead, but in its day it was used a lot.”

Deputy Fire Chief Glen Kirkpatrick said a crew from the Brunswick Fire Department were the first emergency responders to arrive on the scene.

“It was fully involved when they arrived,” said Kirkpatrick, who arrived a few minutes later. “Now it’s nothing but a pile of rubble. It was a total loss.”

Kirkpatrick said the couple who lived in the home were awakened around 5 a.m. by what they described as a “loud bang.” Neighbors also reported hearing an explosion or loud bang, which Kirkpatrick said was probably caused by a box of ammunition stored in the attic.

Dozens of firefighters from as many as 15 departments responded to the fire, which forced authorities to shut down Route 1 in Woolwich for about 20 minutes. Firefighters reopened the busy highway after using a pedestrian tunnel that runs underneath Route 1 to connect with a hydrant on the same side of the road as a Cumberland Farms store and the Bath Subaru dealership.

Mary MacMaster, a senior fire investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s Office who spent the day in Woolwich, told Kirpatrick that the cause of the fire may never be known because of the extent of the damage.

According to the book “History of Woolwich, Maine, a Town Remembered,” Sebenoa Hall was located near the Peoples Ferry company.

The book describes what happened the night that Sebenoa Hall – which was managed by the ladies of the Sagadahoc Ferry Hall company – was dedicated.

“The occasion was enjoyed by a large gathering of leading citizens of the town and a delegation from Bath,” it says. “The new building is an ornament to the town, cost about $3,000 and was built by popular subscriptions in which the ladies took an important part.”

In 1911, Sebenoa Hall served as the site of a community Easter Ball.

“It proved a very enjoyable affair, good music being furnished,” the town history states. “A number came over from Bath to attend. The launch Triton made the trip across the Kennebec before and after the dance carrying passengers.”

The historical society said the property was sold to a private party in 1947.

“Sebenoa Hall is still standing. No longer is it the scene of the countless suppers, dances, entertainments, and community days. Life around it has changed and it is now privately owned,” the town history says.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

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