1900 - FIRE AT NARRAGANSETT. ROCKINGHAM HOTEL, THE CASINO, AND HAZARD BLOCK IN RUINS - LOSS $350,000.
Narragansett Pier, R. I., Sept. 12. - The Summer season here came to a sudden and disastrous end this afternoon through the complete destruction by fire of the great Rockingham Hotel, Sherry's beautiful and famous Casino, the Hazard block, the Knights of Pythias Hall, and a score of smaller buildings.
While the terrific gale undoubtedly aided the spread of the flames to a considerable extent it is probable that had the wind been in the opposite direction there would have been little left of this popular Summer resort.
The fire started in the upper part of the Rockingham shortly after noon, and within a few hours nearly all the adjacent buildings, including the Casino, had been destroyed. The loss is estimated at about $350,000, half of which is covered by insurance. The fire recalls the destruction of the Ocean House at Newport just three years ago, but was far more extensive.
No one as yet has come forward with any facts as to just how the fire started. The big hotel was practically vacant, having been closed for six days so that the fire was fortunately unattended by casualties. In a few minutes the Rockingham, six stories high, and built entirely of wood, was burning like a huge tar barrel.
The heat from the burning structure was terrific and though the wind, which was from the west, carried a greater part of the smoke and flames out to sea, the fire nevertheless spread directly in the teeth of the gale, as well as in a slanting direction to the Casino.
Every effort was made to save the popular resort, but within an hour the southern portion of the Casino was on fire, and soon the entire building, with its sumptuous dancing hall, its beautiful dining rooms, and other attractive features, were wrapped in smoke and flame. About the same time the Hazard Block, west of the Rockingham, caught.
The dealers in it were soon driven out, and stood by while their belongings were devoured. This block was occupied by about a dozen firms. Following the Hazard Black, came the destruction of the Knights of Pythias Hall, and then the fire extended to the small buildings on Exchange Place.
Here a stand was made by the firemen, and the progress of the flames to the north and west was stayed and the rest of the town saved. Besides the Rockingham, an annex, which was used by the help of the hotel was also burned, while the steamboat pier, half a mile distant, was somewhat damaged. Fortunately, the Mathewson, which is situated not far from the Rockingham, escaped destruction.
The Rockingham Hotel was owned by J. G. Burns & Son, and was valued at $200,000, being insured for $75,000. The Casino, which was probably one of the most conspicuous objects at the pier, was built fifteen years ago, and during the past five years had been under the management of Louis Sherry of New York. The building was valued at $100,000 and insured for $75,000. The people here tonight are anxiously hoping that it may be rebuilt.
The Hazard Block was valued at $35,000. The other losses ranged from $500 to $10,000, among probably threescore merchants, and the insurance represents about half of the values of the property swept away.
The New York Times
New York, New York
September 13, 1900
Visit Narragansett, Rhode Island, USA (Point Judith)
Discover the people who lived there, the places they visited and the stories they shared.