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1883 Square Fire

From Bloomingpedia

On March 16, 1883, a fire swept through the west side of The Square, causing damages of around $100,000 and many businesses go up in smoke. Arson was thought to be the cause, although there was apparently no thievery.

The fire apparently started in the Mullikin Building, at the northwest corner of Kirkwood Avenue and College Avenue, and then spread to Shoemaker's Drug Store next door. The walls of that building fell in on McCalla & Co. Dry Goods, burying Robert Foster as he attempted to rescue merchandise. (Foster escaped unhurt after being buried in the cellar and trapped by some falling timber).

The west walls of the Mullikin building fell in on the rear, crushing in the roof and completely gutting that building. A Pioneer Fire engine played water over the fire from two cisterns, putting out the fire after about three hours, and preventing it from crossing the alley to the Dunn Grocery, a frame building that would have burned quickly. As it was, every building on the southeastern quadrant of the block was destroyed.

Various businesses were damaged, some with insurance, some not:

  • Kahn & Tannebaum, clothers, loss of about $17,000 worth of stock. They moved to Mrs. Kahn's room on the west side of the square.
  • Frank Hunter, John Graham and Jeremiah. F. Pittman, who had law offices upstairs, lost all their furniture and law books. Pittman was offered desk room in the office of Buskirk & Duncan afterwards.
  • J. W. Shoemaker, druggist, lost about $14,000
  • C. R. Perdue, books and shoes, loss about $6,000
  • McCalla & Co., dry goods, loss about $4,000
  • E. P. Cole, book store, fully insured;
  • J. O. Howe, jewelry and express office, valuable jewelry saved in safe and express

goods carried out;

  • W. P. Reed, harness, most of goods carried out.

The Mullikin building belonged to W. P. McNary, W. J. Allen and John Louden. Redrick Wylie owned the building occupied by McCalla & Co. Jerry Howe owned the building occupied by Perdue. The book store building was owned by Mrs. Watts, of Texas. The building occupied by Reed's harness shop belonged to Miss Rena Howe. J. A. Baldbridge had a grocery in the new building in the rear of the corner, but the stock was mostly carried out.

There was a roller skating rink in the third story of Mullikin's corner, and the proprietor, Pearson, lost 25 pairs of skates.

Belcher's peanut stand was a total loss.

A second alarm of fire, about 5 o'clock was caused by some flying sparks igniting (sic) the roof of the residence of W. F. Browning.