Fire struck Moorestown's Community House, a 90-year-old landmark in the center of town, late Tuesday afternoon.
Before firefighters quelled the blaze, eyewitnesses reported seeing flames bursting through the roof of the brick and stone building on East Main Street.
Firefighters responded just before 5 p.m. and had the two-alarm fire under control an hour later.
No one was injured, according to Deputy Fire Chief Chris Chesner.
Police assisted in evacuating the building, which had some employees in it at the time, Chesner said, adding that he wasn't sure how many.
An eyewitness, Clemente Passariello, son of an owner of the nearby Passariello's Pizzeria, said as many as 40 people were led from the building.
"I saw flames near the chimney - they broke through the roof, and then separate flames later came out through a window," Passariello said. He said about 15 fire trucks from Moorestown, Maple Shade, Evesham, and Mount Laurel were involved in fighting the blaze.
The Community House, constructed in 1926, has over the decades been the venue for countless weddings, meetings, and other gatherings. More than 70 service organizations and clubs also use the facility, according to the Community House's website.
"Many people have fond memories of Dance Assembly, playing basketball in the gym, or attending swim lessons or pool parties, while others have memories of scarecrow making on the front lawn, free summer movie nights in the ballroom, or the tree lighting celebration," the website says.
"It's near and dear to a lot of our hearts," Chesner said.
The worst damage occurred on the second floor at the northeast corner of the building, where firefighters had to rip through the walls to reach flames in the attic, Chesner said.
Tuesday evening, investigators were trying to determine the cause of the fire and where it started.
The building was donated to the town by Eldridge R. Johnson, founder of the Victor Talking Machine Co., for meetings and events.