Fire Destroys Bristol Landmark
Hot, Threatening, Dangerous Conflagration Visited Bristol, Friday Morning
Published in the Kendall County Record, August 19, 1925
Edited and compiled by Elmer Dickson
One of the buildings of Bristol, probably one of the oldest in the village, was completely razed early Friday morning when, from some unknown origin, flames and an explosion destroyed the former store building which has recently been know as the "Carter" or "Honeymoon Flats." It was at the quiet time of the morning, about 2:30, when the alarm was sounded. Evidence is shown that there must have been a fire for at least an hour before the flames were discovered. The discovery was made when a muffled explosion drove out the front of the store section of the building. This sound aroused the neighborhood but, before real help was organized, the building was doomed. Efforts to save the surrounding buildings were of excellent results and neighboring homes, the Hill store, and most of the smaller buildings were saved. The loss is complete but insurance on the building is ample since there was but one renter in the four apartments. Mrs. A. L. Slayton, who had rented the lower flat, was away from home and her loss of furniture was complete. No one has been able to figure out a cause for the fire.
When the siren for the Bristol fire department sounded it was a signal for work. Many had already been aroused and were on the job. Then the Yorkville bell took up the direful note and, in rapid time, the conflagration was surrounded by hard and fast working members of the two companies. Not a job was shirked, not an opportunity lost to save something of value. Life was not figured in the daring efforts of the firemen to do their bit. When the fire was finally controlled, at about four in the morning, the store of A. P. Hill was safe. The Nelson Quincy home was out of danger. The Boston property was beyond the reach of the flames and all was peaceful except the poor little village hall, which bore the brunt of fire saving. It stood, shaky on its foundation, but still a building. The magnificent trees, which stood about the destroyed building, showed the aid they had given in the fight against the destroying demon.
The largest claim for loss will fall upon Mrs. Carter, who owned the building, which was destroyed. Then comes the village, whose hall was burned, the A. P. Hill property, and the house of Nelson Quincy. Some serious losses are covered by insurance but, as a matter of fact, you can never recover what a fire costs under ordinary circumstances.
The firemen have the acclaim of the entire territory. Bristol and Yorkville worked with their equipment and worked wonders. It was demonstrated that the combined organizations with the practices of the two departments had borne fruit. Bucket brigades knew their business. The chemical, under the guidance of Bert Almy, William Maier and their helpers, worked out as planned. "Bill" Bieritz was busy with his south side company and lots of honor was due the fellows who strung the hose from the Nading corner to the fire, conserving the efforts of the bucket brigade.
At one time it was thought that Mrs. Slayton was in her flat. Irving Bessette tried to break into the building through a glass door, in vain. His arm was seriously cut and six stitches helped to close the wound. Fortunately Mrs. Slayton was not at home but every effort was made to save her.
This building was built in the dim past. The closest statement to date is from some of the older residents who say that the late James M. Gale constructed the place during his promotion of the village, previous to 1862. It was a building of two stores on the first floor and two living apartments upstairs. Below were many tenants, during its life, vague in the memories of the older settlers and unsettled in the minds of the younger. We are able to give a partial list of the stores. However, we are unable to give any reasonable figure as to dates. John McOmber and Litchfield and Pope seem to have been the longest and best known of the occupants. Then there were John and Henry Cooper, Sleeper and men whose names are written in the annals of the north side but whose connection are hard to get at present.
The building that burned was housed between the drug store of Frank Seely, later occupied by Town Seely as a drug store and post office, and the store of Andrew Arnold. Across the corner was the shop of Charlie Vogel. Farther north were the Gillis and Carter stores and the blacksmith shop of Uncle Robert McMurtrie was not far distant.