Recovery Underway After Fire at The Rocks in Bethlehem

Updated 10:30 a.m. Feb. 28, 2019

Jack Savage | February 28, 2019
The Rocks
Winter Sunset at The Rocks

Winter Sunset at The Rocks

Forest Society staff at The Rocks in Bethlehem and at the Conservation Center in Concord are collaborating to recover from a fire on February 13 which completely destroyed two of several historic buildings at The Rocks.  The Tool Building and the Electric Plant, were total losses.  None of the other historic structures on the property were damaged by the fire.  The cause of the fire remains undetermined.  The two buildings destroyed by the fire were critical to the operation of education programs at The Rocks, the Christmas Tree Farm and The Rocks Gift Shop.

Regularly scheduled maple sugar programs starting March 23 will be offered to the public for a fee.  For details and registration go here

The public is also invited to join us for the Rocks Maple Dinner, an annual fundraiser to benefit The Rocks.  This year’s dinner is scheduled for the evening of April 6 at The Maplewood, on Route 302 in Bethlehem.  Click here for dinner details and registration. 

Regular educational programs at The Rocks will continue as circumstances provide.  Long term plans concerning future program activity and facility reconstruction at The Rocks will be made by the Forest Society’s Board of Trustees over the next year.   


Click here to read more history on the buildings lost in the fire prepared by the Chicago based Glessner House Museum 

Click here to read a blog messages we've received since the fire and to share your memories of Tool Building.

Click here to read media stories covering the fire. 

Click here to see a video of the firefighters responding from Bethlehem and surrounding towns (Courtesy Christopher Jensen).

Forest Society Statement on day of the fire:

Feb. 13, 2019: Bethlehem, NH--A fire broke out late in the day on Wednesday February 13 in a building that houses offices and a multi-purpose room at the Rocks, the North Country Conservation and Education Center of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. Fire crews were on site into the evening working to put out the fire in the Tool Building and keep it from spreading to other buildings, including the house in which long-time Rocks Property Manager Nigel Manley lives. Manley was on the scene and reported that all staff are accounted for and safe.

"We're thankful no one was hurt as a result of the fire," said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Forest Society. "We want to extend our appreciation to all the firefighters who responded and helped protect other buildings on site, as well as the offers of help and support from local businesses and residents."

"It's a huge loss for us," said Nigel Manley, director of North Country properties for the Forest Society. "Over the next week we will be evaluating our ability to deliver scheduled programs that are coming up, and communicating with groups and individuals who have booked events as we can."

The Tool Building was a historic structure that was once part of the Glessner Estate. Visitors to the Rocks will recognize it as the main building where staff have their offices, and a large multi-purpose room is used for educational programs, social events and other meetings and gatherings.

The Rocks Tool Building in Bethlehem NH was built in 1906
Built in 1906, the Tool Building underwent many changes in its life.

The Tool Building and former Electrical Plant building (used as a gift shop) were both destroyed in the fire. The full extent of the property damage--as well as the cause of the fire--are still to be determined. During the day on Thursday, Feb. 14, crews capped the water line to the Tool Building and removed two propane tanks. The debris pile is still smoldering.

The NH Maple Museum, housed in the old Saw Mill/Pigpen Building was not damaged.

The Forest Society has owned the 1400-acre Rocks since 1978, and has continued the Glessner family agricultural tradition by operating a Christmas Tree Farm that is a destination for thousands each year. It's is also known as a collection point for the popular Trees for Troops program. Director Nigel Manley and staff work with volunteers to run educational programs on site throughout the year.

Check back on this site for updates. Anyone who has an private event scheduled at the Rocks can email Director Nigel Manley at

Media inquiries should be directed to Jack Savage, VP Communications, 603-724-5362.