Hartford, VT – Sprinklers contain fire at historic manor converted into low-income apartments

Firefighters responded to a fire on Monday in Hillcrest Manor, a historic home that has been converted into nine low-income apartments. Hartford Fire Chief Scott Cooney said in a public statement that no one was injured in the second-story apartment that caught fire shortly before 1:30 p.m. “The cause of the fire was a grease fire on the stove,” Cooney said. “Three occupants were displaced due to fire and water damage.” Cooney said that, by the time first responders entered the unit, the sprinkler system had extinguished “most of” the fire, and fire extinguishers completely controlled the blaze within a few minutes of their arrival.

Hillcrest Manor, located at 261 VA Cutoff Road, was purchased by Twin Pines Housing Trust in 1995, and was one of the subjects of a $10 million redevelopment project of 35 housing units last year. “The fire damage was minor and limited to a stove, the hood and adjacent cabinets,” said Andrew Winter, executive director of Twin Pines Housing Trust, which manages more than 400 low-income housing units throughout the Upper Valley. Winter said the three residents of the fire-damaged apartment, and the water-damaged unit directly below, had to be relocated.

“It is unclear how long it will take to get the units repaired and depends,” Winter said. “In the meantime, we are working with our insurance adjuster on the costs of repairs.” The 137-year-old structure has several distinctive features, including a cupola and original woodwork.

Once an 18-room two-story mansion, Hillcrest Manor was the first structure used for formal town meetings in Hartford, and an adjacent barn that is no longer standing served as the village’s first school.

In 1800, Capt. Josiah “Si” Tilden, who fought in the Battle of Bennington, bought the property from his father and cleared the land to build a house for his family to live in. Tilden also operated a tavern in the area.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott delivered a speech from the lawn outside Hillcrest Manor in October, celebrating the redevelopment project.