DARTMOUTH — Fire officials are investigating the Sunday afternoon fire that burned down the defunct Hawthorne Country Club, and they’re asking the public for help.
A spokesperson for the state fire marshal couldn’t share any details about the ongoing investigation, but urged anyone with information on the cause of the fire to call Dartmouth Police or the State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit. Tipsters can also contact the Arson Watch Reward Program, which offers rewards of up to $5,000 for information that helps detect or prevent arson crimes.
The building is a “total loss,” said Dartmouth Fire District 2 Chief Erick Turcotte. The Massachusetts Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.
The 56-acre property on Tucker Road in Dartmouth was plagued by financial troubles and has sat vacant since it closed in 2016.
Toll Brothers, a luxury home builder on the Fortune 500, agreed to buy the property for $3 million late last month. The company planned to redevelop the property into condos for seniors, according to news reports.
“We are currently in an agreement to purchase the property, but the transaction has not closed,” a Toll Brothers spokesperson said in a statement. “Therefore, we are not the present owners of this property and we do not have any additional details on this incident.”
The spokesperson did not immediately respond to a question about whether the fire would affect the purchase agreement. The realtor selling the property did not respond to The Light’s request for comment.
The fire was reported around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Chief Turcotte said. Crews from all three of Dartmouth’s fire districts responded and put it out in two hours.
Call investigators with tips
Officials urge anyone with information about the fire to contact:
- Dartmouth Police Dispatch Center — 508-910-1735
- State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit — 978-567-3310
- Arson Watch Reward Program — 1-800-682-9229
Local businessman Kevin Santos bought the property out of foreclosure for $2.5 million in 2011, property records show. Santos continued to run the facility as a country club, banquet venue, and golf course, but in 2016 he closed the business because it was no longer “economically viable,” according to news reports at the time.
The fishing mogul Carlos Rafael, who has been released from federal custody after serving time for mislabeling fish and falsifying records, was also interested in the property. He was at the foreclosure auction in 2011 and later worked with Santos to acquire the property, according to news reports. By December 2020, Rafael had assumed the mortgage with his son-in-law Jeff Hathaway, a realtor with a construction business, Dartmouth Week reported. Property records show the mortgage went to Bliss Investors LLC, a Dartmouth-based company with Stephanie DeMello and Ivonilde Hathaway listed as its officers.
In January 2021, Bliss Investors secured the deed to the property for $2.3 million “and other valuable consideration.” Then, over the past few weeks, Hathaway told local news outlets that Toll Brothers agreed to buy the property for $3 million with plans to build condos for seniors there. It’s not clear whether the fire will have any impact on the deal.
Email Grace Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org
More stories by Grace Ferguson
Thank you to our sponsors
Founding benefactors: Joan and Irwin Jacobs fund of the Jewish Community Foundation, Mary and Jim Ottaway
Learn more about our community of individual donors
For questions about donations, contact Chrystal Walsh, director of advancement, at email@example.com.
For questions about sponsoring The Light, contact Peter Andrews, director of business development and community engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org.