Slaterville Fires

Caroline Township, Tompkins County, NY

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Magnetic Springs House is Burned to the Ground
Fire Originates in the Barber Shop and Spreads Quickly
Call for Help to This City Brings Chief Burns to the Scene

[from page 2, Saturday Evening, December 23, 1911 Ithaca Journal]

Fire destroyed the historic old Magnetic Springs Hotel in Slaterville last night. For a time it looked as if the surrounding buildings were doomed and a call for help was sent to this city. By heroic efforts on the part of every able-bodied citizen of the village the flames were confined to the hotel and barn.

The hotel was conducted by Henry F. LYME and son, who also conduct a livery stable in the barn which is a part of the property. Few things were saved from the hotel which burned like tinder, but most of the wagons and harnesses and all of the horses were removed from the barn.

The Messrs LYME rent two stores on the first floor, one to Arthur S. HEAD as a barber shop and another as a meat market. It was in the barber shop that the fire started. A lamp exploded, setting fire to the room, and Mr. HEAD was quite badly burned in trying to extinguish the flames.

The fire spread rapidly and the bucket brigade that was formed turned its attention to saving the adjoining property. The rain during the evening made this possible. All of the buildings were wet, but small fires started in various places before the citizens were satisfied at 2 o’clock this morning that there was no more danger.

The Magnetic Springs house is a very old one and has an interesting history. It was owned by Edward GREEN in the 1850’s and was then an old house. Later the ballroom addition was built on, and for many years it was owned by W. J. CARNS and his son, who sold out to the Messrs LYME about four years ago.

The hotel had between 40 and 45 rooms, but there were no guests last night. Some of the members of the family, however, escaped in scanty attire and were cared for by neighbors.

The home of A. M. DEDRICK, a few feet west of the hotel, was saved by placing the carpet, taken out of the hotel, over the building which was kept wet by a hose from a pipe leading from the creamery, where the pump was kept running all night.

The home of Harry A. DAVIS, on the east side, was emptied of its contents, but was saved by the volunteer department. It was only 16 feet from the burning building.

Mr. LYME had insurance of $1,600 on the buildings and $500 on the contents. Some of the furniture on the first floor was saved, including one of two pianos in the hotel.

The fire fighters were highly complimented for their efficient work by Chief W. L. BURNS, of this city, who responded to the call for help. They were the means of saving the adjoining building.

Ithaca Apparatus Responds: Chief BURNS was appealed to for assistance by George BULL at 11:25 p.m., and Companies One and Two were double-teamed and started for Slaterville. Chief BURNS and First Assistant Chief A. F. PERKINS preceded the apparatus, making the trip in an automobile.

As soon as the chiefs reached the scene of the conflagration they saw that the local companies could do no good, as the hotel then was burned nearly to the ground. The local companies were about half-way to Slaterville when notified to turn around and come back.

On such a bad night for mud it would have taken the companies at least two hours to reach Slaterville. Chief BURNS said, however, that if the triple combination fire apparatus, now ordered, had been in commission, it would have reached Slaterville in at least 20 minutes and would have rendered valuable assistance. Several Ithacans made the trip last night in automobiles.

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Fire, Starting From Burning Leaves, Wipes Out Well Know Hostelry, Causing $15,000 Loss Local Firemen Help protect Other Buildings

[from page 3, Friday Evening, November 10, 1916, Ithaca Journal]

The Fountain House at Slaterville, one of the landmarks in Tompkins County, was practically destroyed by fire late yesterday afternoon, causing a loss estimated at nearly $15,000, which is partially covered by insurance. The fire threatened the residences in the vicinity, but the timely arrival of an Ithaca fire company and a heavy rain prevented a more costly conflagration.

The fire was discovered shortly after 4 o’clock by Miss Lena HAUSLANDER who lives in an adjacent house. A high wind soon gave the flames a roaring start. A bucket brigade which had organized did valiant but futile work to control the blaze. A telephone message to the Ithaca Police Headquarters summoned Chief REILLY and Number Nine’s fire truck.

When the firemen arrived, the blaze which had evidently started in the lower house, had crept to the roof and almost the entire eastern end of the structure was ablaze. Three streams of water were played on the blaze, the water being pumped from Six Mile Creek nearby. The wind velocity was such that the streams of water could hardly reach the windows of the upper stories. The firemen, however, were successful in preventing the fire from spreading to adjoining buildings. The cinders were large and were carried by the wind for a considerable distance.

History of Building: The Fountain House was built in the early 1870’s by the late Charles M. BENJAMIN and A. F. and C. F. HORNBECK. It originally consisted of two stories and a porch, comprising the west end of the building which burned yesterday. The hotel, intended as a sort of sanitarium, because of the proximity of magnetic mineral springs, soon became popular.

When Moses DIEDRICK took possession of the property he erected a three-story addition on the west end, making the building twice as large as it was when first built.

W. J. CARNS bought the place about 25 years ago. He was also the owner of the Magnetic Springs Home which was destroyed by fire about five years ago. Yesterday’s fire is believed to have started from leaves set afire by children. Until about a year ago the hotel had been conducted by Miss Martha B. CARNS who died in Philadelphia last winter. The ownership of the building then reverted to her brother, Lyman B. CARNS, at present residing in Philadelphia.

Thank you Senja Radcliffe for sharing this information.

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