About three blocks from the shorehouse, chaos erupted in the darkness early this morning.
We're in the midst of a terrible storm and the 48 mile-per-hour winds caused embers to be swept for blocks, making battling the blaze extra challenging in a town of wood-framed Victorian homes. Miraculously, no one was killed. But some people's lives were changed forever, many losing everything.
Clark, the amazing owner of The Manchester Inn, has lost his home and his business. His Inn was a favorite stop on the Ocean Grove House Tour. He would whip up the most amazing homemade soups (even a vegetarian one!) and his gratis lunch stop was always a favorite for those of us in the know. Anyone who's ever asked me about the Ocean Grove House Tour knows I say, "Make sure you stop at The Manchester Inn!" For the Holiday House Tour his special hot mulled cider was also on tap, along with recipe cards so you could recreate the magical potion at home. The Inn was solar powered, a project Clark took great pride in and would talk to anyone about with the excitement of a grade school boy who just hit a home run. A well curated photo display right inside the front entry helped tell the story.
The Manchester Inn was on a popular stretch of the local July 4th parade, and guests always spilled out of their rooms and onto the porches for one of the best viewing spots in the town. Here's a couple of pictures I took in 2008 (the Inn is behind the trees):
When I saw what was left of The Manchester Inn and its neighboring Painted Ladies this morning -- a pile of charred embers -- my knees got weak and the tears flowed freely.
Please keep my neighbors in your thoughts this weekend.