Fire Levels the Doris Duke Theater at Jacob’s Pillow
Fire engulfed and destroyed the theater at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket early this morning according to an article in The Berkshire Eagle. According to the report the fire started around 7am this morning and by this afternoon an excavator was knocking down what remained of the Doris Duke Theater. The theater was built in 1990 as an experimental dance space and had a capacity of 220 seats.
At the height of the fire an estimated 30 firefighters worked on controlling the blaze but crews were hampered by a hydrant on the property that was not working. A nearby pond was used to douse the flames. Water was also shuttled to the scene according to the Berkshire Eagle report.
Jacob’s Pillow is a dance center and the home of the highly acclaimed School at Jacob’s Pillow that teaches all phases of dance including; ballet, contemporary dance, jazz, and others. With the loss of the Doris Duke Theater, the show will go on post coronavirus pandemic at the Ted Shawn Theater which was not damage in the fire. It is the larger of the two theaters with a 620-seat capacity.
Jacob Carter III settled the property in 1790 and because of the zigzagging road leading to the top of the property. According to Wikipedia, the property became known as Jacob’s Pillow because of pillow-shaped rock on the property.
Jacob’s Pillow is known for the oldest international summer dance festival in the country. The facility is listed as a National Historic Landmark. It is the only dance entity in the United States to receive that honor. It also received the National Medal of Arts in 2010.
Because of the pandemic the center cancelled its 2020 season. It is unknown at this time if the theater will be rebuilt. The cause of the fire is under investigation.