Bath, NY Long Island Locust Grove Hotel Fire, Aug 1879

The Locust Grove Hotel Burned.

A Fire Started By Gasoline-Guests Save Only A Dozen Trunks.

Gunther’s Locust Grove Hotel and Pavilion, at Bath, were totally destroyed by fire last evening. James Marvin and Henry Constine, men employed at Bath Park, were sent over to Gunther’s at dusk to borrow five gallons of gasoline. They went to William Shuchardt, a German, employed by Mr. Walker, lessee of the hotel at Locust Grove, and he took them into the lamp-room, an apartment in the basement of the building. Shuchardt held a can, and Constine poured gasoline from another can, while Marqin held a light at a short distance, to enable Constine to see when the vessel was filled. According to Constine’s story there was a sudden flash, the room seemed to be all afire, and then Constine, blazing from head to foot, rushed out of the room and down to the shore, which was near by, and flung himself into the water. Marvin was also burned, but not so badly as Constine, and he rushed into the water. The house was in two parts, a main building 50 by 50 feet and three stories in height, and a pavilion two stories high, 60 feet wide, and 250 feet long. In these buildings there were between 80 and 100 guests. They had scarcely time to get out of the building before it was in a blaze from one end to another, and in less than half an hour it was leveled to the ground. The guests did not save altogether a dozen trunks. Mr. Walker had a large sum of money in his safe and some valuable diamonds belonging to his wife. Another guest, whose name could no be learned was frantic about a trunk, which he said contained $2,000, and which he offered $500 to recover, without finding anyone who would venture into the burning building. After the flames had consumed every timber, a man named Joseph W. Pierce, who was steward of the hotel, was missed, and several persons remembered that they saw him going up stairs in the pavilion to get his satchel, and did not see him afterward. He was a very large man, weighing about 300 pounds, and Mr. C. Godfrey Gunther, who was at the hotel with his family and who had also seen Pierce enter the hotel while it was blazing, believed last night he had perished. Mr. Gunther saw the men in the lamp-room, filling their cans just before the fire broke out, and remarked that it seemed to be very careless to hold a lighted lamp so near the oil during such an operation. He understood that it was kerosene, not gasoline, but Marvin and Constine said they came for gasoline.

The hotel was originally Mr. Gunther’s private residence. Four years ago he enlarged it, and built the pavilion. Its cost was somewhere about $50,000, and until June last it was fully covered by insurance. At that time he allowed so of the policies of insurance to lapse, and was yesterday protected to the amount of $30,000. The companies could not be ascertained last night. A gang of roughs from Brooklyn and Parkville hovered about the fire during the evening and committed some thefts, taking such effects of guests as could be carried away. They even attempted to throw a chain over the red-hot safe, and to drag it away, but were driven off by Officer Scott and two or three others, who were on the spot protecting property. The wharf and depot were uninjured, and travel by way of Locust Grove will go on uninterruptedly to-day.

The New York Times, New York, NY 16 Aug 1879