Litchfield, CT Fire, Jun 1886



Litchfield was crowded with people all day Saturday, come to view the ruins of the big fire. Farmers drove in from miles around and the hotels were overflowing with summer residents from Hartford, New Haven and other cities, drawn by rumors of the loss of their own property. The stores had stocked up heavily for the summer trade; and 20 of these stocks of goods are either destroyed or damaged. Eight buildings are burned to the ground. A big temporary building will be put up in the 50-acre park in the center of the village to accommodate the merchants. Great grief is felt that the fine elms about the Mansion house are scorched and shriveled; but fortunately the finest trees in the village were beyond the reach of the flames. Among the summer cottagers are President-elect Dwight of Yale, Prof Hoppin, ex-President Woolsey, Dr. Edwards and Rev. Henry Ward Beecher. They will be asked to contribute handsomely to rebuild the town. Unless the town rebuilds the court-house, the county seat will be likely to go to Winsted or New Milford, which have better railroad connections. The most dramatic incident in connection with the fire was the bringing from the town poor-house of Sylvester Spencer, once a rich land holder in town, and for a long time the owner of the Mansion house, but who was reduced from wealth to poverty by misfortune, and who had been for several years an inmate of the almshouse, to view the ruins of the hotel which he once owned and enlarged and kept for many years. The landlord and his house were once more on a level. The reputation of the Mansion house for good cheer has not departed in its recent days, as may be seen from the fact that the landlord loses 17 barrels of whisky in the fire. The most enterprising news gathering was by the Winsted herald, a little weekly that was just going to press when a telephone message announced the outbreak of the flames. The Herald stopped its press and had out an extra before the dailies had heard of the news, in which it offered the use of its type and presses to the homeless Enquirer. The only gainer is a poor brakeman who has a damage suit pending against the Naugatuck railroad. H. B. Graves, father-in-law of President Watrons of the New York, New Haven and Hartford road, lost papers of much importance in the defense of the suit.

Springfield Republican, Springfield, MA 14 Jun 1886