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Title: Fire Destroys Capitol (Warren County Courthouse)
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Warren county's handsome $85,000 court house went up on smoke and flame at an early hour Sunday morning. The fire, the origin of which is unknown, is said to have originated in the cob room in the southeast corner of the basement. Near this room was a spiral pine stairway reaching from the basement to the attic and the flames are supposed to have sucked up this stairway as up a flue and the entire upper portion of the building was soon a mass of flames. At this stage-about 4:30 in the morning--the fire was discovered by Dr. Porter, who occupies rooms near by. He telephoned the central, who attempted to give the alarm by blowing the electric light plant whistle. It is said that the engineer, at this early hour, did not have steam enough to blow the whistle and church bells were resorted to to alarm the residents. The fire department was aroused individually by the telephone operator, but by the time that they reached the scene the building was doomed and attention was given to getting out the records while the firemen worked to stay, as much as possible, the progress of the flames and save surrounding property, as it was realized to be a hopeless battle to save the capitol building The records were removed from the Recorder's office. though this proved afterward to have been unnecessary. The big tower, which reared its head 155 feet into the air, toppled and fell with a crash into the Auditor's office. This mashed in the ceiling of the fireproof vault and the fire foud its way among the books, many of which had their edges charred, but are not so badly mutilated but what they may be re copied. The Treasurer's office is a total wreck but he moneys and books within the vault are intact, the iron bound room answering handsomely to the heavy test put on it. Few if any of the records of the county are destroyed, which is a very fortunate phase of the big fire. Treasurer Stephens worked so hard to save the property in his charge that he was overcome and required the services of a physician. The county superintendent lost everything is his office, not even a scrap of paper being saved. Sheriff Tague, who lived in the basement, got out some of his goods but the balance were badly damaged by falling brick and water, the fire not reaching his apartments. The building is almost a total wreck and must be rebuilt from the foundation up. There was $25,000 insurance on the building and $5,000 on the contents which will go some ways on rebuilding. Up until last year $45,000 insurance was carried on the building but through a feeling of economy the Commissioners almost cut the amount in half. In 1872, the court house was built "on the hill" in old town where it stood until 1886, when it was removed to the north part of town and reconstructed in an almost facsimile, except for the rear tower. The cost of removal was in the neighborhood of $50,000. It has stood in its present location nearly 21 years and was one of the finest small court houses in the State. Empty rooms about the town have been secured and the county business will be looked after in these improvised offices. [photo of old capitol building included]

Date: 1/24/1907
Origin: West Lebabon Gazette
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Record ID: 00002607
Type: Periodical
Source Archive: Warren County Historical Society
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
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