Buildings suffer many fates over the course of time. Physical markings, renovations, and the stresses of time all take their toll on materials. The Hayden Building suffered a huge fire in 1985 that burned out the upper floors and roof completely; leaving it in an abysmal state until Historic Boston stepped in years later. While cleaning the interior brick some areas proved more than stubborn. The images above show how fire has marked the building and why we have the codes and regulations we have today.
MATERIALS – Image One: The area of brick to the right is clean to the touch, but the brick itself has turned black from the overwhelming heat of the fire. The area to the left looked very similar before cleaning. The black area most likely had a flammable wall covering material that raised the temperature of the fire and chard the brick more deeply – like putting it in a kiln. Today interior materials are classified by the degree with which they propagate fire and how fast it spreads. There is a whole industry around this from your bed sheets to the insulation in your walls.
CONSTRUCTION – Image Two: On a lower floor the charred pattern is indicative of a previous stair along the wall. The fire most likely started here. To the right you can see a recessed shaft in the brick – a nineteenth century chase for plumbing pipes. This area has also been cleaned to the touch. Note the charred brick in the shaft – this is where the fire spread from one floor to the next. Today we have strict regulations for the construction of all shafts and equipment that span from floor to floor or connect dissimilar rooms to avoid fire from quickly spreading throughout a building.
It’s all yet one more layer of legible history in the Hayden Building.