Fire – The Barclay Hotel Burns – December 1915

A major catastrophe occurred at the end of 1915 in Pine River, Minnesota. A fire of unknown origin started in the mercantile store and consumed both the store and the hotel before it could be brought under control. If I am correct it would have happened on the 27th of December 1915.

Immediately following the fire, Amarilla opened a temporary store at the south end of the Barclay block. The store was general in nature but still reflected her millinery interests. The hotel was not rebuilt. Amarilla continued to operate her store until her retirement in the 1930’s.  If you look up to the current header photo of this blog you will get an idea of the area involved in the fire.

The Barclay Hotel

The Barclay Hotel, from Logsleds to Snowmobiles, courtesy of the town of Pine River

Fire Threatened Entire Village…..

“Flames Discovered in R. Snell’s Store, Made Short Work of That and Leaped to Barclay, Bucket Brigade Saved Town, Heroic Work of Citizens Prevent the Destruction of the Entire Business Section. Monday evening at about 9:45 the fire alarm announced that fire was raging in the store building of Mrs. Dawes.

The chemical engine was promptly on hand, but the central part of the store was one mass of flame and it was apparent that nothing could be done, so attention was turned to the saving of the Barclay hotel which, on account of a slight south breeze, seemed to be in danger as soon as the store fire would get to its height. For awhile it looked as if the hotel would be saved, but the heat became terrific and the fire fighters were unable to stay on the job. The roof of the kitchen caught fire first and the old landmark, The Barclay, soon was in ashes.

When it seemed that the whole block would be destroyed, and people began moving out as far over as the post office, the wind shifted to the southwest and the greatest danger was over, for by excellent work in keeping the telephone building well soaked under difficult circumstances the flames were checked. Considerable dynamite was used in trying to wreck the burning hotel but with no effect. The wood shed at the rear of the Sentinel-Blaze office was torn down when it became imminent that the main building was in danger. This, however, as it proved, would have been unnecessary.

The land office of S.P. Hanson at the rear of Mrs. Dawes store had no chance of being saved, so after the contents, including the books and records of Treasurer Linden of the school board were safely removed, it also burned to the ground.

During the course of the fire at the hotel the hot water tank in the kitchen got up steam and tore loose from its moorings and shot up through the top of the building and soared high in the air coming down on the top of Day’s blacksmith shop a block away.

Everybody in the Leef building up as far as the post office were moving out, as were those between the hotel and the corner to the north. The telephone exchange was ripped out and looks as if a cyclone hit it, and aside from the actual fire loss is the only other loss of any amount. It will be several days before connections can again be made and the village given telephone service.

Unstinted praise is due a number of citizens for their work in checking the fire, as they did. Homer Andrews, perhaps more than any other one man, stuck to the blistering job of keeping the telephone building wet while others carried water from every available well. Elmer Raines also was among the conspicuous ones and both of these had their clothes scorched to a distinct brown. Without the bucket brigade there is no telling what would have happened, but chemical also did fine work.

Chief Cromett and his assistant, George Bell were right on the job, and against great odds proved to have been doing the best possible under the circumstances. While it was a great loss, it was as nothing compared to what might have been the result, and many there are who are now congratulating themselves on their good fortune.

The barn at the rear of the Barclay caught fire several times and if allowed to burn would have endangered the Spencer building and the Smith building adjoining in which Dr. Bremkin lives. An attempt was made to dynamite the barn, but it was impossible to give the explosive the required resistance to do any damage to the structure except to blow off the door.

Much of the bedding and furniture in the Barclay was saved, by getting it out, but the greater part of it went up in smoke. Mr. Cater who recently sold the furnishing to the new proprietors holds the insurance as security for the unpaid balance, and will be partly reimbursed for the loss. Mrs. Dawes had $3,000 insurance on the hotel building and $1,000 on the store buildings occupied by R.E. Snell who had insurance to the amount of $6,000 on the stock of goods. The loss to the telephone company will be about $100 with no insurance. The total loss to Mrs. Dawes is estimated at $15,000; Snell’s loss is placed at $8,000 each with insurance as stated above.”

Source:  December 31, 1915, Front Page, Pine River Sentinel, Pine River, Cass Co., MN.

This was a pretty good description of the fire, I believe. The newspaper survived to write about the fire. Things in Pine River are so different now then back in 1915, there has been lots of change since that time. I would have liked to have seen the Barclay Hotel on my visits to Pine River, that would that have been a kick. It probably would not have survived anyway but I am still looking for building plans?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s