Hotel Layafette Fire
A Houlton History Lesson
Lafayette Hotel Destroyed by Fire
Wednesday Morning, February 15th 1911
From the Aroostook Times
The fire department was called out Wednesday morning last week for a fire in the Lafayette Hotel on Main Street which completely gutted the building entailing a loss of $35,000 with $12,000 cover by insurance.
The fire was discovered by someone as he was returning from a dance. He sent an alarm from Box # 32. The department responded promptly but the fire had obtained such a headway that a second alarm was rung in, and in a short time there were six streams playing on the fire but it was impossible to do anything but confine it to this building. There was 100 lbs. pressure from the hydrant with plenty of water and as the flames worked towards the south end of the block two more streams were soon playing on the building from a hydrant on Court Street running lengthwise to the Exchange Hotel. The fire department deserves a great deal of credit for the way in which they handled the fire. By 8;00 p.m. they had it under control.
The temperature was 20 below zero and the water froze as it hit the building. The firemen were coated with ice making for very uncomfortable work and the pot of coffee served to them most appreciated that evening.
The cause of the fire is unknown but Mr. Thibodeau thinks it began in the dining area and as soon as it had worked its way into the halls above swept everything before it.
The hotel was built some six years ago, although it has only been finished a little over a year and since then it has been conducted as a hotel. Mr. Thibodeau was building up a fine patronage and paid special attention to his table.
In addition to the hotel office on the street level there was a barbershop conducted by Robert Hull, and on the west side a vacant store in which was stored in case lots, some millinery stock owned by G. M. Phillips & Company. In the basement were the bowling alleys and the billiard room of Mr. Thomas Dobbins.
Jos. McDonough, the well known local plumber, was installing five bathrooms and lost many of his tools and damaged a great deal of the stock.
Losses and insurance are as follows:
W. J. Thibodeau hotel and furnishings loss 35,000, insurance 12,000
Thomas Dobbins loss $1500 no insurance
G.M. Phillips & Co. loss covered by insurance
Robt. Hull loss $100 no insurance
Jos. McDonough loss $800 no insurance
In addition to Mr. Thibodeau's financial loss he also lost much personal property which was valuable on account of its association.
The help, as well as the guests, escaped with only what clothes they hastily clad themselves with losing their personal effects.
The loss to the town as a hotel will be much felt, as well as being an ornament, and one of many good business blocks that Houlton may well be proud.
Mr. Thibodeau informs us that he will probably rebuild in the spring putting in a two-story building with some stores and fitting the second-story as offices or suites for occupancy.