Amherst, MA Fire, Jul 1879



SPRINGFIELD, Mass., July 5.---The incendiary fire at Amherst yesterday morning burned propery[sic] valued at from $75,000 to $100,000. The property destroyed is the Amherst House, the Post Office, the Savings Bank, town offices, the Public Library, one of the largest livery stables in Western Massachusetts, two college secret society lodge-rooms, and the stores of a number of mercantile firms. The fire leveled everything between the north-east corner of the Amherst House, and W. W. Hunt's tin shop, near the Baptist Church. The distance burned over is about 20 rods in length. The Amherst House was a large building of three stories and basement. Attached to it by a shed were three large barns, one for the accommodation of Stebbins's livery stable, where 38 horses were kept. These barns formed, with the hotel, three sides. The Savings Bank block helped to make up a square. The bank building was occupied: First floor, Post Office; E. Nelson, books; J. H. Starbuck, jeweler; second floor, the Amherst Savings Bank, (the town records were kept in the vault.) and E. E. Webster's law office; upper story, Amherst Chapter Psi Upsilon. (college secret society.) the next building was a narrow two-story brick structure owned by Lucas Williams, and Occupied by J. A. Rawson, jeweler; C. B. Gallond, tailor, and the Amherst Library. The next building was a two-story brick, owned by Charles Adams. The ground-floor was occupied by Charles Adams, the remainder being used by the Alpha Delta Phi Society; the south store by O. G. Couch, grocery trade. The next was a one-story building, used by Mr. Couch for storing merchandise, and which connected Adams' building with one three stories high, owned by George Cutler & Co. The next was the wooden lean-to building, used by B. F. Kendrick for a market. All these were burned to the ground, except the two-story vault, which was used by the Post Office and savings bank. The whole arrangement was a perfect firetrap.

The fire started at the stairway leading to the left of one of the sheds, and was evidently helped by kerosene poured on the stairs. A large amount of goods was saved, and the net loss as a whole is small.

The New York Times, New York, NY 6 Jul 1879