Courtesy: The Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, Connecticut
Kate Hepburn sifting thru the debris following 1938 Hurricane

Courtesy: The Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, Connecticut

Kate Hepburn gathering keepsakes from 1938 Hurricane

Courtesy: The Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, Connecticut

Hepburn devastated following Hurricane

Courtesy: The Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, Connecticut

On September 21st, 1938,  it came without warning. As the story goes, Katharine Hepburn was out playing golf in Fenwick as the monster storm was approaching. Hepburn and many other rode out the storm in Fenwick.

There was no radar or satellite or buoys. Nobody had any idea about what was about to roar ashore. Many experts today believe it would be likened to what we now know as a category 4 Hurricane.

Nearly 700 died in the storm. Along coastal New England 9,000 homes were destroyed including the Hepburn place in Fenwick.

These pictures, from the Connecticut Historical Society, show Kate sifting thru the ruins. So vast was her love of Fenwick, she would rebuild the home within one year, raising it several feet to try and keep any more storms at bay and stronger, out of brick, not wood. Nearly 60 years later that brick has held up just fine, leave it to Kate.

See you at “The Kate.”
Ann Nyberg, Trustee, KHCAC

5 Responses to “Katharine Hepburn Picks up the Pieces from the 1938 Hurricane”
  1. Capt. Hilts, the Cooler King says:

    What happened to the KHCAC building during the hurricane?

  2. Ann says:

    Good question Capt. Hilts, I’m working on an answer, though I don’t think it was damaged as it’s a couple miles inland from the sound.
    Ann

  3. Stacy says:

    According to a program on the History Channel about the Hurricane that I just saw today: It happened on September 21st.

  4. Thanks for posting these pictures. “The Hepburn Hurricane” story has always fascinated me, and as someone who has been through their own share of those storms, I know what the damage is like firsthand.

  5. Dr. Hepburn did indeed build the destroyed house three feet higherin brick instead of wood. But Kate never maintained the house. See Chapter 17 of my book, “Surviving High Society”. When she died, the house came within eyelashes of being demolished because the foundation had moved six inches and the house was sitting in a hole. Water constantly flooded the house and Kate just cheerily swept it out and declared that as long as the toilets flushed she wasn’t going to worry.

    As I understand it, Dr. Hepburn kept all Kate’s financial accounts for years even to the point of giving her a monthly allowance well into her adulthood. The way I heard it, it was he that advised her to buy the rights to the Philadelphia Story. She did and that gave her a real foundation for personal financial independance.

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