A piece of the town’s history met an early end Sunday.
The 1745 House, whose demolition was pending, was torn down after being damaged in an early-morning fire that officials are calling suspicious.
A passer-by went to the fire station at 5:31 a.m. Sunday to report the fire, Rockland fire Lt. Tom Heaney said.
Since all firefighters were out on a medical call, Heaney said the firefighter serving as dispatcher went to the scene alone in a back-up engine.
“The fire was through the roof on arrival,” Heaney said.
The building was unoccupied, so the first priority was to keep the fire from spreading to the nearby Trinity Episcopal Church, he said.
Along with Fire Chief Scott Duffey, the firefighter set up a hose between the two buildings to protect the church until the other firefighters had cleared from the medical call, Heaney said.
The fire in the one-and-a-half story, Cape-style house was brought under control within an hour, he said.
Abington firefighters assisted at the scene, while Hanover firefighters covered the Rockland station.
Because of the damage to the structure, “it was deemed unsafe by the building inspector and the fire chief, and they called in an excavator to demolish it,” Heaney said.
No injuries were reported, he said.
The cause of the fire is suspicious, and the state Fire Marshal’s Office has been called in to assist in the investigation.
The 1745 House, also known as the Samuel Greene homestead, is on MacKinlay Way.
The house had been moved twice in nearly 200 years. Originally on Plain Street, it was moved to Market Street in 1818. But when that property was purchased for commercial development 38 years ago, residents saved the house by moving it again to its present location.
The house was used as a museum for about seven years after that.
But since then, the wooden structure had fallen into disrepair, with roof and beams rotting and a foundation that needed work. Historical commission Chairman Jim Paul estimated in June it would cost more than $100,000 to restore the house.
Paul said securing grant money to preserve the house was difficult because the house had been moved and thereby lost much of its historical significance.
Earlier this year, Deputy Fire Chief William Ferguson had designated the house as a safety hazard, and plans were made to tear down the house this fall.
About two dozen residents attended a farewell ceremony for the house in June. The event included a musket salute by Revolutionary War re-enactors and a visit by local members of the Daughters of the American Revolution.