The task now becomes picking up the pieces, literally.
“You have to take layers of the building off of others,” he said. “You’re de-layering the floors of the building as you’re looking for clues as to the cause and origin.”
Plus, the fire had a good head start before firefighters arrived, damaging or destroying much of the contents of the structure before suppression efforts could begin.
Monday night, Rosalyn Wood, 75, who lives in a mansion on the estate, was comforted by friends and neighbors as she leaned against the front bumper of a fire truck, watching the blaze devour the historic building.
“I’m quite upset,” Wood said, adding that she thinks the fire was purposely set. “There’s no way it could start itself. I think somebody did it. We have had break-ins there over the years. Someone deliberately put a fire in the building. I guess the Fire Department will have to check that out.”
Mansfield said Monday it was too early to say whether the fire was set. But he added that with no utilities in the structure, “it increases your suspicions.”
Mansfield said he was sorry to see the building go.
“This whole area has seen a lot of history,” he said. “It’s a loss to the entire community.”
`Throwback in time’
Built in 1867, the structure was one of the few pre-industrial buildings left standing in Andover. Originally located in what was known as Frye Village, the precursor to Shawsheen Village, it was bought by the Wood family following the closure of the wagon and blacksmith business and relocated to their estate in 1900.
Thomas Childs, owner of Childs Design and Construction, has taken on several renovation and restoration projects for Wood on the estate over the last three years.
Working on Arden Casino was not one of them, he said.