Keene, NH Fire, Oct 1865

Destructive Fire at Keene, N. H.

KEENE, N. H., Oct. 21.---About twelve o'clock on Thursday night fire was discovered in the rear of Richards' block, which was soon communicated to two blocks north of this, and owned by Colony Brothers. As soon as it was discovered that these three buildings could not be saved, a wooden building owned by Hon. T. M. Edwards, and occupied by the Post Office, was torn down, to prevent the flames from operating. The principal sufferers by the fire are:---George H. Richards' building, valued at $12,000, and insured for $5000; Colony Brothers' building, valued at $15,000, and insured for $8000; T. M. Edwards, owner of the Post Office building, loss $1000; J. B. Knowlton, hardware dealer, loss on stock, $6000, of which $3000 were insured; J. K. Stone, 6000 bales of wool, insured for $4000; French & Sawyer, photographers, loss $2000, and not insured; Clark Farrar, fancy goods, loss $800; not insured. Three blocks of builders were destroyed, and nothing was left standing between the Cheshire House and the Town Hall.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA 23 Oct 1865


DESTRUCTIVE FIRE IN KEENE.---The most extensive conflagration ever experienced in Keene, occurred on the night of the 19th inst., leaving, in the space of three hours, the entire group of buildings between the Town Hall and the Cheshire House on complete mass of ruins. This group included Richards' Block, T. Colony's and H. & A. Colony's, the latter also known as Shelley & Sawyer's Block. The fire was first discovered a little before midnight, in the cellar under Knowlton's Hardware Store, Richard's Block, by an occupant of a room in the Cheshire House, who saw the flames through the cellar window, and at once gave the alarm. The firemen were soon on the ground, but the fearful rapidity of the flames had already made it evident that Richards' Block was doomed. All that the firemen could do was to prevent the fire from spreading to the Cheshire House, some two rods Southerly, and the buildings Easterly. As it was, the Cheshire House caught fire two or three times, and, but for the almost superhuman exertions of Mr. Doolittle, the proprietor, who handled the hose with great skill, that building would probably have been added to the list of ruins. The small building next Easterly from Richards' Block, well known as the law-office of Messrs. Wheeler & Faulkner, was considerably damaged. A strong South-westerly wind fanned the flames into maddening fury, and scattered the sparks far and wide; and yet, for a time, it seemed as if the fire would be confined wholly to Richards' Block.---This seemed quite probable, from the fact that T. Colony's Block, next adjacent, was a fire proof structure; and, with a little well-directed effort, would effectually check the progress of the flames Northward. But just as the firemen began to gain control of the fire, the water in the reservoirs gave out, and at once put an end to all hope for the entire group above named, and in a short time the whole was a smoking ruin. To prevent the spread of the fire to the Town Hall, the small wooden building owned by Hon. T. M. Edwards, and occupied on the lower floor by the Post Office, and on the second story by F. C. Woodward, barber, was demolished by order of the Engineers. Had it not been for the rain the day preceding, and a slight shower the very evening, the devastation would have been much greater. As it is, it is quite apparent that, owing to a culpable lack of means to furnish a supply of water, property to the value of some $25,000 has been irrecoverably destroyed; a fact which may well occasion serious reflection.

So slow was the progress of the flames, that most of the occupants of H. & A. Colony's Block and T. Colony's Block were able to save nearly or quite all their property, excepting Mr. Elbridge Clark, who had all his valuable furniture, household goods---including a variety of oil paintings, several choice specimens of embroidery, and the numerous little keepsakes which accumlate(sic) in a family and whose worth is not to be measured by dollars and cents merely, all his wife's clothing and his own, silver ware, and an assortment of millinery goods, consisting of silks, &c., safely packed in boxes and stowed away in T. Colony's Hall, ready for transportation to Philadelphia. All these were consumed, making a loss of some $3,000. Several of the occupants of Richards' Block suffered severely.

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