The Great Asylum Fire of 1933

Posted by Patrick Valenza on

VIDEO: In October, 1933, a tremendous fire ripped through Fenwood Asylum, killing 13 people. That tragic night was the last anyone ever heard of Mildred "The Red Witch" Payne.


In the Fall of 1933, a roaring blaze swept through the South Wing of our beautiful Fenwood Asylum.

Although the cause was never determined, many believed it to have been started by inmate Mildred “The Red Witch” Payne after one of her frequent tantrums.


13 causalities were reported, including several horses trapped in a nearby stable.

The horse’s horrifying cries were heard that night by residents as far away as Eastbury.

Mildred Payne remains unaccounted for, and is presumed to have perished in the tragedy.


More than half of Fenwood was destroyed in the fire.

The charred ruins smoldered for more than a week afterwards.


The morning after the blaze, firefighters claimed to have discovered an unscathed doll lying among the soaked, blackened rubble.

When inquiries were made about the pristine doll, surviving inmates cowered in fright , claiming it was owned by non other than Mildred herself.

The only information retrieved was that the mysterious doll was known as Claire.


The ruins of the South wing today….

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