By Carol McCracken (Post # 649)
Although it’s a tragic memory, it’s worth recalling. Eighteen years ago this morning a fire roared through a large apartment building at the corner of Congress Street and Washington Avenue leaving four people dead. A 10-month old girl, her mother and two other adults perished in the four alarm fire.
The fire left the Hill community in shock – coming so close to the holiday season. A teenager was charged with murder and arson in the blaze the roared through the apartment building that contained 4 apartments. The teenager was believed to have been motivated by revenge against someone who lived in the building.
There was a small amount of disagreement in the community as to what should be done with the property that many saw as the gateway to Munjoy Hill. A few liked the idea of making the property into a park dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives in the fire. However, it was decided that there was a greater need for space to serve young children living on the Hill – with fees on a sliding scale basis. Thus, the East End Children’s Workshop, founded in 1970, that had been housed at 10 Mayo Street, estabalished its program in that location. It was led by child activist Linda Hogan.
Initially, Hogan saw it as location where all of their programs could be held as well as expanding some of the programs. In time, Portland Adult Education held computer classes there.