On This Day in FFD History

January 7, 2021 Events  No comments

This is a fire that we have never published before. It is a LENGHTY read but enjoyable.
On This Day in FFD/Frostburg History (Friday, January 7, 1927) the St. Cloud Hotel and Lemmert’s Garage Burned and Many Cars Destroyed.
Reprinted from the Cumberland Times, Thursday, January 13, 1927
It is estimated that the loss caused by fire which destroyed the St. Cloud Hotel and Lemmert’s Garage, at Frostburg, Md., last Friday morning, will amount to $110,000. Nearly half of this loss was in valuable motor cars and their contents, all of which were completely destroyed by the flames.
Fire Started in Garage
The fire originated somewhere beneath Lemmert’s Garage in the rear. Conrad Weibrecht, a night watchman at the Consolidation Coal Company office, stated that he saw a fire at 2:30a.m. after train No. 22 had gone through the C. & P. tunnel. He said he looked up the hill from the coal office and noticed a blaze in the rear of Lemmert’s Garage, apparently coming from the basement. He said at first thought it was the waste paper yard in the yard, but soon discovered that the blaze was getting larger and he immediately sent in an alarm.
Harrison Lemmert, who spent the night at the garage, stated he smelled smoke about 2:45 a.m., but saw no blaze. He at once turned in an alarm by telephone and then left the garage closing all doors tightly for the purpose of notifying the police. After sounding the alarm, Lemmert returned to the garage and found smoke so dense it was impossible to get out any of the motor cars.
The Lemmert garage was conducted under the management of Harrison, Oren and Everett Lemmert. They enjoyed a large patronage, and their garage was one of the most popular in the comm unity for the storing of cars.
Battle with Flames
After the Frostburg Fire Department arrived and began playing several streams on the burning buildings, a call for help was sent to Cumberland and Lonaconing. Fire Chief Henika and his men with an engine from the Central fire station, of Cumberland and Chief Weddell and the Lonaconing engine, soon arrived. The Cumberland engine attaching to the fire hydrant in front of the Koch residence and the Lonaconing engine attaching to the hydrant in front of the Frostburg Opera House. These two pumpers, together with the Frostburg engine, had six streams playing on the blaze.
The fire, fanned by the stiff breeze, burned fiercely until about 6 a.m., when it was gotten under control. Effective work by firemen prevented the blaze from extending further west than the brick wall of the Gross building and prevented what might have been a most serious conflagration, taking every building as far west as St. Michael’s church property
Shields Building Badly Scorched
Mr. & Mrs. Charles Shields, owners of the building adjoining the St. Cloud Hotel Saved practically all of their furniture and have moved into the Shaffer Apartments, E. Union Street, until repairs can be made to their own property.
The Shields building was badly scorched and damaged by water. Mrs. Alice Kearsing and her sister, Miss Martha Thomas, who occupied one of the Shield’s apartments, saved most of their furniture which is now stored in the Gunnett building across the street. Mrs. Kearsing and Miss Thomas will reside temporarily with Misses Martha and Bertha Stern, W. Union Street, until they can reestablish themselves. Mr. and Mrs. Donald Kreider, who occupy another of the Shield’s apartments, saved most of their furniture and now have stored it.
Goods Moved to Safety
The entire contents of Meyer Gerson’s store, adjoining the St. Cloud Hotel, were carried many volunteer workers across the street to the building of Samuel Gerson, and Meyer Gerson will reopen his grocery and general merchandising business in his brother’s building.
Slight losses were suffered by Mr. and Mrs. Louis Parrella, owners of a grocery store in the Gross building, and Frank Taccino, who conducts a shoe repair shop in the Gross building. The contents of the Parrella and Taccino business places were carried across the street to the store of Michael DeMechelle. Practically everything carried out was replaced on Saturday and both of these firms resumed business as usual.
The contents of the Kylus tailor shop were carried across the street into the pool room of George Sangid. Early on Saturday, Mr. Kylus, with the assistance of friends, had all his merchandise replaced and ready for business.
Practically every business house on the opposite side of the street opened their doors to allow the storage of household furniture and merchandising stocks from buildings in the fire zone. Hundreds of volunteer workers were on hand generously offering their services to help move the contents of the business buildings.
The loss of Meyer Gerson, owner of the St. Cloud Hotel, could not be learned definitely. Mr. Gerson had extensively improved the hotel about three years ago, the improvements including stucco veneering and complete refurbishing from top to bottom of the interior. His 26 sleeping rooms were furnished with expensive beds, springs and mattresses and other furniture. His loss is partly covered by insurance. The basement of the hotel facing Depot Road was occupied by George Kettle Wright’s barber shop. Mr. Wright saved practically the entire contents of his shop.
Animals Burned to Death
Consumed in the blaze were about three dozen chickens, one horse and one racing pony belonging to Mr. Gerson. The stock of his store, adjoining the hotel, was taken to safety before the fire reached the store walls.
Honeymooners Lose Car
Mr. and Mrs. V.A. Wallace were just recently married and were enroute from Centerville, Mich., on their honeymoon to Orlando Florida. They were traveling in a new Hupmobile Eight and were staying at the St. Cloud Hotel over night. The car, together with a new fur coat valued at $750 and valuable papers including stocks and drafts, left in the car, were destroyed. Their total loss is estimated at $3,600.
Many Motor Cars Burned
Following is a list of the cars destroyed and the names of their owners: Buick 5-passanger touring car, owner, Clifton Hitchins; Ford coupe, owner, Robert Brake; Buick touring car, owner, Harry Prichard; Buick coupe, owner, Russell Burkett; Buick touring car, owner, Harry Thomas; Chevrolet touring car, owner, Cooperative Finance Company; Peerless sedan, owner, Harry Prichard; Buick touring car, owned by a tourist who was a guest at the St. Cloud Hotel; another touring car owned by a quest at the hotel; Buick roadster, owner by John Ryan; Ford coupe, owner, Miss Winifred Green; Ford coupe, owner, James Lemmert; Ford coupe, E.H. Fleer, of Philadelphia, with the Wilson Index Co., whose car also contained a valuable motion picture machine; Ford roadster, owner, Charles Bond; Hudson sedan, Owner Warren Kruase; Ford coupe, owner John Powers; Chevrolet sedan, owner, Mrs. Rachael Dunn, a school teacher; Ford coupe, owner, Martin Hartig; a five-passenger car owned by Squire Parker; Chevrolet sedan, owned by John Lewis; Buick roadster, owned by John Lewis; Buick roadster owner by Joseph Conely; Ford coupe, owned by Nat Tyler; Cadillac rigger owned by Lemmert Brothers; Chrysler sedan owned by Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Boston of Watseka, IL,; and an Apperson touring car, owned by an Arkansas tourist.
In addition to the above cars there were two in a small basement room beneath Lemmert’s Garage, belonging to Meyer Gerson. It is also stated that another motor car which was driven into the garage about 2 o’clock Friday morning was also destroyed.
Old Landmark Destroyed
The destruction of the St. Cloud Hotel removes one of Frostburg’s most picturesque landmarks. Formerly the Frostburg Hotel, the building was purchased from Lowndes & Clarey in 1856 by James Dillon, who died shortly after engaging in the hotel business. His widow later married Cornelius Lynch and, under the management of Mr. and Mrs. Lnych, the hotel enjoyed a period of great prosperity. After the death of Mr. Lynch the hotel was purchased by the late Thomas G. Dillon who, together with his wife, Mrs. Dora Dillon, conducted the business until 1910 when they retired. The building was then occupied in succession by the following persons who conducted the hotel: James Shields, John Sluss, Edward J. Decker and Wilbur Ward. After the hotel was closed by Mr. Ward, Mr. and Mrs. Dillon sold the property to Meyer Gerson about six years ago. And since that time the place had undergone extensive improvements and was doing a thriving business. The site was formerly owned by the Independent Stage Company and was occupied by one of their hostelries and change station.

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