|Town Of Lee, Oneida County, New York||Village of Lee Center|
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Bowman's Hotel at Lee Center was entirely destroyed by fire early this morning. The store located on the west side and the barn in the rear were scorched, but the spread of the fire was prevented by the excellent work of a squad of Rome firemen.
The building, which was a two and a half frame structure, 60 by 105 feet in size, was owned and occupied by John Bowman as a hotel, living quarters and a dance hall. The family occupied living quarters on the second floor in front. About 1 o'clock they were awakened by smoke, which filled the upper part of the hotel. The members of the family barely had time to gather a few clothes and make their escape. Mr. Bowman was in Utica at the time. A short time ago he met with an accident and went to Utica to take treatment from a specialist.
The fire started on the second floor in front and near the stairway and its origin is unknown. Howard Bowman, son of John Bowman, ran outside and aroused some of the neighbors. The church bell was rung and neighbors assisted in the work of getting some of the household effects out of the burning building.
The blaze made fast headway and the flames were soon bursting from the windows. A buck brigade was formed and an attempt was made to save the store and barn and prevent the fire from spreading to other property.
Word was telephoned to No. 2 engine house in this city for help and Fire Chief Bower took a squad of eight men, with his auto and the pumping engine, and went to the assistance of the village. When they arrived there the pumper was placed in position on the bridge over Canada Creek and water was taken from the pond, there being a dam underneath the bridge.
When the firemen arrived they saw that quick work was necessary in order to save the store and barn. One stream was taken in between the hotel and store and the other in the rear of the hotel between it and the barn.
The store was on fire on the side and roof and two holes were burned through the roof, but this blaze was soon extinguished. The barn was also burning on the side and roof and there was a small amount of fire in the hay. The fire in the barn was soon stopped and then the firemen turned their energies to the hotel. This building was beyond saving when the firemen got to Lee Center but they kept at work until the fire was practically extinguished.
Word was received here by the firemen at 1:20 o'clock and a few minutes later they were on their way. They pumped water on the ruins until 4:30 o'clock when the engine was shut down. After the firemen picked up their hose and made ready to return, they were taken to the Masonic Temple where they were served with breakfast. The following women assisted in preparing and serving: Misses Florence Powell and Elaine Thorpe, Mrs. George Platt, Mrs. Josephine Hollenbeck, Mrs. Nellie Hitchcock, Mrs. Zella Lloyd, Mrs. W. P Juergens, Mrs. Charles A. G. Scothon, Mrs. Augusts Rudd, Miss Grace Flint, and Mrs. Marion Bushnell. The firemen arrived back at their quarters at 5:45 o'clock.
The members of the fire department who made the trip were Fire Chief Bower and Driver Elsinger of chief's auto, Captain Donahue, Pump Driver Haynes, Firemen Roach, Smith, Copia, Cronin and Marsh. The trip for a part of the way was made over dirt roads which were full of water and mud from the recent rains, but good time was made.
Some of the older residents of the village who were interviewed at the time of the fire stated that there had been a hotel on the site of the burned structure for over 100 years. The original building was burned about 60 years ago and the present structure was erected in 1860 by Benjamin West who conducted it for a number of years. The late Orson Knowlton, well known in this city, conducted it for a number of years and sold out to a man by the name of Iseneker. Mr. Bowman purchased the hotel and removed there on April 2, 1894 and had conducted it since that time.
The store, which was damaged, is conducted by Howard Bowman and this loss, which is small, is covered by insurance. The damage to the barn is also covered. The hotel was valued at between $8,000 and $10,000 and is a total wreck and partially covered by insurance.
The residents of Lee Center were very much pleased with the work of the Rome firemen and the Romans received many expressions of thanks. The villagers said that without the work of the Romans a greater fire must have resulted.
The absence of any wind prevented in a large way, the spread of the fire. The hotel was situated on a corner and there are buildings across the road. To the west of the Bowman store is located the grocery and general store conducted by Louise Hartson, but this building was not damaged. Large sparks flew away from the burning building but the roofs were wet from the rain and no damage was caused from the burning embers.
John Bowman jr. says that between $400 and $500 in money was lost in the fire. There was a roll of bills and a bag of silver in a bureau drawer in a room on the second floor. The drawer that was supposed to contain the money was saved but it turned out to be the wrong drawer and the money was destroyed.