Theatre at Renowned Jacob's Pillow Dance Center Burns Down

Associated Press

Tuesday November 17, 2020

The Doris Duke Theatre at Jacob's Pillow in Becket, Mass., burned in an early morning fire, Tuesday, November 17.
The Doris Duke Theatre at Jacob's Pillow in Becket, Mass., burned in an early morning fire, Tuesday, November 17.  (Source:Ben Garver/The Berkshire Eagle via AP)

A fire at the renowned Jacob's Pillow dance center in Massachusetts destroyed a theater building early Tuesday, but no one was hurt.

The fire at the Doris Duke Theatre was reported at about 7 a.m., Becket Fire Chief Paul Mikaniewicz told The Berkshire Eagle.

Firefighters arrived to find flames on the right side of the building. A short time later, the 30-year-old, 216-seat wooden theater went up in flames with sound that Mikaniewicz described as like a tornado.

A hydrant on the property wasn't working, so firefighters had to shuttle water in and get water from a nearby pond, he said.

About 30 firefighters from several area fire departments responded.

The state Fire Marshal's office is investigating. The cause has not been determined.

"While we have lost some precious, irreplaceable items, those experiences and memories will last forever," Pamela Tatge, Jacob's Pillow's artistic and executive director said in a statement. "We are heartbroken and we are relieved that no one was hurt."

She said the organization will rebuild.

There is another, larger theater on the grounds.

Jacob's Pillow canceled its 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the organization recently opened studio and housing spaces to a small number of artists for COVID-compliant residencies.

The center dates to 1933. The 220-acre Jacob's Pillow property was declared a National Historic Landmark District in 2003.

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