1905 Fire Takes the South Side of Main Street

Only seven years after the destructive fire of 1898 which burned the north side of Main Street, the quiet of a January night was broken by the call of fire. The millinery store of Mrs. Eastman was the site of the fire’s start. In addition to the millinery store, Dr. Maitland had his offices and the King family had their home in this building.  Dr. Maitland was able to save some of his equipment but lost several valuable medical books.  The others lost all in the flames, the King family narrowly escaping with their lives.

The fire spread quickly even with the efforts of the fire hoses and bucket brigade. Two private homes on either side the millinery store we’re soon burning. A partially brick building housing Blakeslee Grocery (the store only opened there the previous month) and Dr. Green’s dentist office also burned. Some items were rescued from these establishments, although damaged from the hasty removal.

The Shoemaker, Gus Schmelzer had moved his business into a building on the corner of Main and Mechanic Street following the 1898 fire that destroyed his business. This time, thankfully much of his stock and inventory was able to be removed from the building.

Since the stream of water from the hoses and the pumps were of little use on the main fire some men took the hoses to the roof of the Central Hotel to try to protect it. Blankets and rugs were kept wet and placed on the outside walls of the hotel as was done in the 1878 fire to protect the Hewell House on the other side of Main Street.  The Hewell House (under that and other names and owners) survived all three of the fires that devastated Spartansburg’s business district.

Titusville was contacted to come and help and several men did arrive on the train at about 3:30 AM- 2 1/2 hours after the start of the fire. There was very little to do by the time they arrived since the fire had consumed all of the buildings between the Central Hotel and Mechanic Street.

The Central Hotel was rescued from the fire with only a little scorching and some broken windows thanks to the efforts of a few who used the pumps and hoses that were ineffective on the other buildings to keep the roof and sides wet. One report indicated that free libations were being offered to those who helped.

Following the fire of 1898 seven years prior, Spartansburg Borough Council had passed an ordinance that all construction in the business district must be of fireproof material. Because of this the only real damage done to the north side of Main Street was the breakage of several windows in the front of those buildings.

Reports of the fire appeared in the Titusville Herald and in the Spartansburg Sentinel.

Herald Article from January 14, 1898
Sentinel Article from January 20. 1898

As with the other destructive fires of 1878 and 1898, neither the flames nor the water caused physical death to people or to the spirit of the merchants in town.  Rebuilding started almost immediately and some fine new structures were soon seen on the south side of Main Street.

This building was built by Gus Schmelzer to be his shoe and boot repair and sales. Gus lost buildings and inventory in all three Spartansburg fires. He retired shortly after completion of this building. The small arched building is a part of a doctor’s office.