Monday, March 18, 1974
Early on a cold, dark Monday flames engulfed the Idle Hour mansion that had been the home of Dowling since 1963. Starting in the Student Lounge and working it’s way through the Hunt Room and Ballroom , then up the grand staircase and out through the glass Conservatory, the fire left the heart of the mansion in ruins.
Oakdale native Joe Mandanici, now Dowling’s Senior Facilities Administrator, was relatively new to the West Sayville fire department that responded to the call. In this interview he deconstructs the fire for us: 40-mph winds coming off the Connetquot, trucks drawing water straight from the river, men and equipment from all neighboring fire departments converging.
Joe also tells us more about the life of a volunteer firefighter and the men he served with back in 1974. As he explains, that fire at the mansion was just the beginning of a long day.