|Phoenix Hotel Fire
Levi Chandler Ball built the Phoenix Hotel in 1837 for $20,000. It was one of the finest hotels in the area and had many visitors. It was where the present Key Bank parking lot is located.
At 9:00 A. M., on April 1, 1876, a fire broke out in the rear chimney on the Northeast wing. An alarm was given from several churches and it was at least a half hour before the firemen could get the engine working to fight the fire. By that time, the flames extended through the great hall since the cupola served as an excellent draft. The pump engine was placed in the river above the bridge, and two streams watered down the adjoining buildings since it was obvious the hotel could not be saved. Local people flocked to the area and began to remove the furniture and other valuables from the building. A local newspaper set the number at 300 and reported that everything was removed even the window blinds and sashes. The sheds in the rear and a small barn full of straw were emptied and the buildings demolished. The Gray’s Block across the street which housed the Bakery, Darroch’s Tin Shop, the Post Office, Cahill’s and Bowers’ Saloon were constantly sprayed with water after the buildings had carpeting and quilts hung over them. By ten o’clock, all hopes of saving the building was given up.
Van Rensselaer Lodge of Free Masons occupied the upper part of the south wing as a lodge room. It was fitted up in fine style and well furnished. Most of the furniture, pictures, and regalia were saved before the fire reached this area. The I.O.O.F offered the use of their lodge rooms to the Masons.
Village President, A.T. Skinner telegraphed Troy for aid, and the Washington Volunteer Steamer Company was dispatched by special train. After a small accident in the railroad yard, the train arrived at 11:55 A.M. accompanied by reporters. In attempting to push over the standing walls, the marble columns of the entrance door were broken. The article said the columns cost $700 new. They were later used in the construction of the Standard Office building.
A newspaper reporter wrote: “It is sad to contemplate the ruin of this magnificent hotel, for just so much capital is taken from our midst, and removed forever from the world. The Phoenix belonged to Peter Quackenbush, a wealthy farmer of Bresse Hollow, but we cannot say whether he will rebuild. In a village containing a manufactory which passes out $400,000 yearly, it would seem policy to rebuild at once. Our people had the opportunity of witnessing the value of slate roofing in this disaster. Had the hotel been shingled, it would have made a fire so intense that some of the surrounding buildings could not have escaped.”
T. Wallace ran the Phoenix hotel and moved to the corner of Wilder and Main street. He started a new hotel under the name of the Wallace House.
Owners and names changed from Hotel Fitchburg, New Phoenix, Hotel Waddell, and lastly Hoosac Inn. The Hoosac Inn was demolished in April 1956 to make room for the Grand Union and the present Rite Aid store.
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