Historical Snippet #2 – UNLOCKED!
"The Damage, Assessed"
Lost in the fire were the three storefronts on the South Block of Main Street currently housing the Museum. At the time, they were offices and storerooms occupied by the Franklin Investment Company, E. A. Frank's Store, the office of Dr. S.H. Lyle, Palmer and Phillips Undertaking Room, D.C. Cunningham's Livery Stables, the Franklin Library Club; and Franklin House, a hotel and store belonging to R.H. Jarrett & Sons, in addition to Dr. Garland’s drug store and living quarters. The upper floor above the storeroom was rented out as a dormitory to students of the Pendergrass School, but they were all away visiting family the night of the fire.
The total loss in goods, furnishings, stock, and personal possessions among all those affected was estimated to be around $17,000. Nothing was insured. Fortunately, no lives were lost including the eleven horses in the stables, and the fire was contained when it reached the first brick building between the hotel and Public Square.
The wind was calm that night, otherwise the fire may have spread to the north side of the street as well. Some buildings were scorched and their windows broken by the heat, but through luck and constant drenching with water, they were saved.
Much speculation centered around the cause of the fire, and history has recorded only this conjecture – that it was rats chewing on matches.
Special thanks to Council Member Barbara McRae for the historical documents that contributed to this story.