Early Morning Fire Razes Two Buildings, Guts Third, July 11
Total of Twenty-five Thousand Dollars’ Loss Incurred by Lytton, Gillespie and Smith
Two buildings were burned to the ground and one gutted by fire of undetermined origin on Main street early Wednesday morning, July 11. It was one of the most disastrous fires that has ever occurred here. The loss has been estimated at $25,000. Help was received from the Princeton and Bluefield fire departments who were largely responsible in preventing further spreading of the flames.
The fire started in the General Merchandise store of J. H. Gillespie, in a two-story frame building which was destroyed. It then razed a two-story frame structure owned by Stanley Lytton in which Ed Via conducted a barber shop. The large frame building owned by W. M. Smith on the North side of the Gillespie building was gutted.
The flames had gained much headway when discovered about four fifteen by a Mr. White and a lack of water hindered the Athens fire men from checking the fire until aid from surrounding cities came to the rescue.
The loss was great because of the fact that little insurance was carried by the property owners. The office of R. A. Martin local Justice of the Peace located in the Lytton building was destroyed as well as all of his records. Ed Via was fortunate in saving most of his barbershop equipment. Lytton had insurance to the amount of $800.00 on the building. Mr. Gillespie who had insurance to the amount of $55,000 lost his stock, building household goods. Mayor Parker, who operated a general merchandise and hardware store in the Smith building, saved almost all of his goods, his loss being only damage by water and damage to the side of the building. Mr. Smith carries insurance to the amount of $2,000 on the building. Mrs. G. W. Moore, daughter of Mr. Smith, saved her household furniture of course damaging some while being carried out. Curtis Anderson also occupied an apartment over Parker’s store, but his goods were all saved. Mrs. Jim Bourne and Mrs. Edna May Moore rooming over the Parker store saved their personal effects with little damage.
The water brigade with the aid of a large Oak tree saved the Methodist church. Windows in the church and in the building owned by T. A. Barbrie (sic) were broken by the intense heat. It is interesting to note that this is the second time the large tree has saved the church, the last time when the Bowling (sic) store burned several years ago.
All electric and telephone wires were down, and a few days ago workmen could be seen at work making the necessary repairs.
Source: Concordian, Athens, West Virginia, Issue Thursday, July 19, 1928