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Stratford Springs Hotel Fire Aftermath: January 15, 1918

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▶ Newspaper Article

-from the Wheeling News-Register, January 15, 1918

Only Gaunt Chimneys Mark Stratford Springs Hotel Site

Secretary Adams Announces No Plans for Rebuilding Have Been Discussed

Majority of Guests Successful in Saving Their Personal Effects

Only a couple of brick chimneys and an odd iron beam remain to mark the site where the beautiful Stratford Springs Hotel stood before it was reduced to a smoldering pile of ashes in the course of an hour Sunday night. Many sightseers visited the scene of the destroyed resort yesterday and while the general comment was one of regret over the loss of the popular hotel and that sustained by the owners and guests, there was a feeling Fate dealt somewhat kindly in having a west wind blowing against the flames which originated in the extreme east end of the structure. An east wind would surely have resulted in some fatality. The blaze was compelled to eat its way against the breeze and the rapidity with which this was accomplished gives a fair idea of what might have been had conditions been less favorable.

Future Plans Unknown

Mr. John W. Adams secretary-treasurer of the hotel operating company stated to the Register last night no plans for rebuilding the Stratford had been or would be entertained till Mr. H. L. Bond, vice-president of the company returned to the city. Mr. Adams however stated that the manufacture of mineral waters and ginger ales which was carried on in another building and which escaped damage from the flames, would continue without interruption. It is some balm to the owners, this part of the plant was saved as Stratford Springs ginger ale has developed a fame of national importance, and is distributed in various parts of the country.

Crossed Wires the Cause

The original theory of the origin of the fire that of crossed wires in the ice plant is still adhered to. Another possible cause advanced is the overheating of a motor in the boiler room. The hotel of course is a total loss covered by insurance to the extent of $75,000. The loss to furnishings, guests belongings etc. will probably bring the complete loss up to $150,000.

Guests Saved Personal Effects

Mr. Adams states that practically every one of the guests in the hotel at the time saved their personal effects. Mrs. Mary Alderman who was absent from the city will lose everything while Mr. A. B. Paxton and family will be heavier losers. Mrs. Sam Hazlett was absent but someone broke into her room during the fire and took from it a number of her personal effects. There were between twenty-five and thirty-five trunks taken from the building during the fire. Several of the guests however sustained losses in the shape of room furnishings of their own and bric-a-brac which could not be removed with the same alacrity as clothes.

Rescuing the Furniture

While the amount of furniture salvaged compared with that destroyed was small, the unique method by which some heavy pieces were saved was one of the features of the fire. The front steps of the hotel and the terraced lawn was used as a toboggan slide down which a grand piano, sofas, chairs, and any number of heavy articles were slid to safety. Had the hotel lawn been level, little of if any of these articles would have been carted beyond the reach of the flames.

Firemen and Volunteers Praised

Mr. Adams praised the efficient work of the Wheeling and suburban fire departments who did their utmost under poor conditions. Handy men bobbed up among the male residents of Woodsdale who turned in and assisted in rescue work of all descriptions with an ardor that won admiration on all sides. For special mention in despatches are Mayor Roy Naylor of Woodsdale, William Abbott, H. F. Behrens, Robert Irwin and Joe Jefferson. Mr. George Whitaker a guest at the hotel did herculean work in giving the alarm to those who had already retired, and assisting in other directions.

Ten minutes previous to the discovery of the fire Robert Brothers, of Chapline street Wheeling, night watchman at the hotel, was in the plant department. There was no sign of fire than and everything was running along as customary. A fire which had burned in a gas range early in the evening had been extinguished several hours before.

Immediately on the discovery of the fire, Mr. Adams and a score of attaches of the hotel went to every floor and quietly appraised the guests, numbering 125 of the fire. There was no disorder or confusion and everyone acted as if it were a fire drill. Hastily gathering what effects were near at hand they quietly left the burning building. Mrs. Adams with her three weeks old baby was carried from the building and taken to a neighbor's home. The baby is suffering from no ill effects from the exposure, but the mother is quite ill.

Driven from their winter home when fire completely destroyed the Stratford Springs hotel on Sunday at midnight, the guests are gradually evolving some plans for the immediate future. Be all this as it may, there is still the sadness at heart not only over one's personal and social losses, but a realization that something ineffably precious has gone out of the scheme of things. The memory of many pleasant social gatherings for which the popular hostelry was noted will always remain. The large homelike rooms which seemed to embody every comfort and the broad long piazzas, which were such a joy to seek out with the first warm summer days were attractions that have familiarized themselves for many seasons. The hotel was being built eleven years ago at this time and opened for guests in April of 1907.

Nothing could have been finer than that kind thoughtfulness of the families near the hotel, who threw open their homes and proffered every assistance within their powers. Among the guests who are now pleasantly quartered with friends or who have progressed further in establishing themselves are the following:

  • Mr. and Mrs. George Whitaker are making their home at present with Mr. Whitaker's parents, Mr. and Mrs. A. C. Whitaker.
  • Mr. and Mrs. John Adams and children are with Mr. and Mrs. M. G. Keith of Edgwood street. Mr. Adams was manager of the hotel.
  • Mrs. M. M. Alderman, who resided at the Stratford, left a few days ago for Philadelphia, where she is at present with friends. Everything in her lovely apartment was a loss.
  • Mrs. Edward Pilcher and her father, Mr. R. A. McCabe, will make their future home with a daughter of Mr. McCabe, Mrs. Bates Woods.
  • Miss Virginia McKee is with Miss Hattie Hazlett of North Main street. Her mother, Mrs. James B. McKee and her sister, Mrs. Gertrude Ritchie, are with Mr. and Mrs. Henry Hazlett. They will occupy the home of Mrs. Chauncey Dewey at Echo Point shortly.
  • Mr. and Mrs. R. A. McCabe, Jr., are the guests for the present of Mr. and Mrs. H. E. Field. Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Paxton, who remained with Mr. and Mrs. Hullihen Quarrier until Monday, are now at the Hotel Windsor for an indefinite period.
  • Mrs. Samuel Hazlett is the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Kent Hall of the Martindale apartments, the latter her daughter.
  • Mrs. Louis F. Stifel and daughter, Miss Virginia, are with the former's brother, Dr. and Mrs. H. E. Osterling of Sixteenth Street.
  • Mrs. C. J. Milton is being entertained at the home of the Misses Patterson at Woodlawn and remains undecided as to her future plans. Miss Minnie Milton, who has spent the vacation with her mother, left on Monday for Devon Manor, Philadelphia.
  • Dr. and Mrs. Leroy Hill have Mrs. Hill's parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Pfarr and her sister, Miss Katherine Pfarr, at their home on the National Road.
  • Mr. and Mrs. D. Allan Burt and children remained with Mr. and Mrs. A. M. Rice until Monday when they came in town to the Hotel Windsor, where they expect to remain until spring, when they will open their summer home at Beech Bottom.
  • Mrs. Adelaide Egerter and Miss Eva Egerter are the guests of Mr. and Mrs. James Beans of Pleasant Valley.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Dave Tappan, who were spending the winter months at the Stratford, are now with Mr. and Mrs. Fred Ebeling of the Island.
  • Mrs. Augusta Dickenson is with her brother, Dr. Frank LeMoyne Hupp and Mrs. Hupp of Fifteenth Street.
  • Miss Zelda Blanchard is the guest of Mrs. A. F. Gasmire at Woodlawn.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Charles Cooke and children have come into Wheeling and taken apartments at the McLure.
  • Mr. and Mrs. M. L. Kahn of Pittsburgh, who have been staying at the Stratford for a few weeks have taken a suite at the McLure, as has also Mr. and Mrs. Williams.
  • Mr. and Mrs. S. G. Elpern are entertaining Mr. and Mrs. Markowitz, who were at the hotel for the winter months. Mrs. Nina Chambers has taken a suite at the McLure and will remain for some time.
  • Miss Anne Norris will be at the Y.W.C.A. for a few weeks.

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