Blaze on New York’s Fire Island destroys gay resort landmarks

Scene of a fire in Cherry Grove on Fire Island on March 27, 2015. WNBC-TV

Scene of a fire in Cherry Grove on Fire Island on March 27, 2015.WNBC-TV

Scene of a fire in Cherry Grove on Fire Island on March 27, 2015.

MINEOLA, N.Y. — An early morning blaze on Fire Island destroyed several structures, including two well-known landmarks in a historic gay resort, and required dozens of firefighters to respond by ferry from the mainland of Long Island, fire and police officials said Friday.

The fire, which was reported at about 1:30 a.m., ruined an apartment complex known as Holly House, as well as the Grove Hotel, and left three firefighters with minor injuries, said Craig Williams, Cherry Grove assistant fire chief. A nightclub attached to the hotel called the Ice Palace avoided serious damage, Williams said.

Cherry Grove has been known since the late 1940s as a sanctuary where gay writers, actors and businesspeople from New York City and beyond escape to relax, hold hands and show affection in public.

“This is the largest fire we have had here in well over a decade,” said Williams, a volunteer who lives near Hackensack, New Jersey, and drove to Long Island early Friday to respond to the blaze.

The Suffolk County police arson squad and the town of Brookhaven’s fire marshal’s office were conducting routine investigations to determine the cause.

Article continues below

Two private homes were destroyed and three others also were damaged, Williams said. None of the structures or homes near the downtown business district in the primarily summer beach community was occupied.

The nearby Cherry Grove Community House and Theater, which opened in 1948 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013, was not damaged, Williams said.

Notable Cherry Grove visitors and residents have included poet W.H. Auden; playwright Tennessee Williams; author Truman Capote; actresses Nancy Walker, Tallulah Bankhead and Hermione Gingold; comedian Kaye Ballard; and New Yorker journalist Janet Flanner.

© 2015, Associated Press, All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

This Story Filed Under

Comments