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Sharon home destroyed by fire belonged to musician couple

  • Authorities are investigating the cause of a fire on Lent Road in Sharon, Vt., that destroyed the home belonging to Jeremiah and Annemieke McLane on Aug. 4, 2020. The couple and their seven-year-old son were away on vacation at the time. (Vermont State Police photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/5/2020 9:28:17 PM
Modified: 8/6/2020 9:50:00 PM

SHARON — If you’ve followed the Upper Valley music scene, chances are you’ve heard Jeremiah and Annemieke McLane perform.

And now the Upper Valley community is rallying around them as they work to rebuild after they lost their Sharon home in a fire early Tuesday morning. The house was a total loss.

The family, including 7-year-old son Luke, was not at home at the time of the fire and the cause remains under investigation, according to a news release from Vermont State Police. Firefighters from Sharon, Strafford and other nearby towns responded to a call for a structure fire shortly before 12:30 a.m. Tuesday at 91 Lent Road and found the house “fully engulfed in flames” and the roof collapsed, the release said.

Jeremiah McLane built the Lent Road home in the late 1980s on a previously wooded lot on the Sharon-Strafford town line. Annemieke has lived there for around nine years.

“We’re very fortunate in some ways. It’s a huge thing to happen for any family to lose a home,” Jeremiah said in a phone interview from Maine, where the family was vacationing at the time of the fire. “We were spared the whole process of seeing it, which can be very traumatic.”

Jeremiah, an Upper Valley native, is perhaps best known for his accordion playing, and Annemieke is a well-known pianist.

Jeremiah is on the faculty of the Upper Valley Music Center, and Annemieke has layed piano for the Handel Society of Dartmouth College and the college’s theater department, as well as serving as music director at the United Church of Strafford.

In addition to performing in area ensembles, the couple perform together as the Cassotto Duo.

“Both are really important parts of the musical life of the Upper Valley, as well as having fan bases far beyond it,” Rebecca Bailey, of South Strafford, said in an email. “So many people have not only enjoyed their concerts, but also have taken lessons from them, danced to Jeremiah’s music with his bands like the Clayfoot Strutters, sung in choruses Annemieke has accompanied.”

The pair lost two pianos — including one Annemieke brought over from The Netherlands, where she grew up — and an accordion in addition to a bass that Luke was learning to play. They also lost recording equipment and other musical items “that we use to make our living,” Jeremiah said.

Though the home was insured, he said, “Anything in the house was lost. We have yet to find out what will actually be covered, how much will be covered.”

Annemieke has collected sheet music for around 40 years.

“One of the huge losses, which people might not realize but is absolutely enormous, is the sheet music we’ve collected,” Jeremiah said. “It’s very difficult to replace sheet music.”

The family is staying in Maine through the end of the week as they process their next steps.

“We’re moving one step at a time. We have a place to stay here and it’s helpful to get ready to come back,” Jeremiah said. “We have a lot of support. We’ve had an overwhelming response to us. We’ve had people offering us places to stay.”

In that time, the community has already begun to rally around them. Sharon Elementary School, where Luke has been a student, has started a book drive to replace the ones he has lost. The United Church of Strafford has set up a fund and checks can be made out to “McLane Recovery Fund” and mailed to the United Church of Strafford Deacons, P.O. Box 124, Strafford, VT 05072.

“People are so helpful and generous and it feels like we’re not alone so that’s good,” Jeremiah McLane said. “We’ll be able to get through this with people’s help, so that’s the main thing.”

Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact Vermont State Police Detective Sgt. Todd Ambroz at 802-878-7111 or todd.ambroz@vermont.gov.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.

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