Skip to Content

Bay City, MI Large Hotel Destroyed, Dec 1906

Ruins of Fraser Hotel

FRAZER HOUSE BURNS.

BAY CITY'S BIG HOTEL ENTIRELY DESTROYED BY FIRE.

ALL INMATES GET OUT ALIVE.

FIREMAN JOHN O'NEIL SERIOUSLY BURNED -- GUESTS FLED PARTIALLY CLAD TO COLD STREETS -- WAITRESS SAVES LIFE OF MAN -- LOSS TOTALS $75,000.

Bay City, Mich., Dec. 24. -- The Fraser House, Bay City's leading hotel for 40 years, was completely destroyed by fire Sunday morning, nothing but the four walls being left.
The fire started in the annex containing the boiler room, laundry and porters' quarters. All of the guests in the house escaped uninjured, but JOHN O'NEIL, fireman, was found seriously burned in the fire room and will probably die. ANDREW BROWN, clerk in the storeroom, was burned and badly bruised in a thrilling escape from his room on the fourth floor.
Many of the guests and employes of the hotel got out of the building only partially clad and presented a motley appearance on the streets in the cold morning hours. The fire was discovered by the night clerk when he went to call some guests for an early train about 2:45.
The rear portion of the building, where the servants' quarters are located, was then filled with smoke, which came through the passageway from the annex. He routed out the help and spread the alarm through the bulding. With few exceptions the occupants had plenty of time to escape.
Within half an hour after the fire was discovered it was apparent that the building was doomed, the flames having spread quickly from the annex and were eating their way to the front of the structure. O'NEIL was discovered lying on the floor of the fire room by FLOYD GOODWYN, proprietor of the hotel, and a member of the fire department. He was dragged out in an unconscious condition and was found badly burned about the face and arms, and had inhaled smoke and flames. He was taken to Mercy hospital and tonight is unconscious and sinking rapidly.
ANDREW BROWN, the storeroom clerk, occupied a room on the fourth floor, facing the alley. Several minutes after the alarm was given he tried to make his escape through the hallways, but was driven back by the dense smoke. He then went to a window and let himself out on the sill, hanging there while dense clouds of smoke rolled out over his head.
When the crowd in the street discovered him a cry went up for ladders, but the longest one at hand barely reached the third story. THOMAS HARDING, JR., one of the firemen, ran up this ladder with a shorter one, which he held up against the wall for BROWN to climb down on. This, too, was too short.
The flames had commenced to burn BROWN'S hands and he lost his hold. He struck the ladder as he fell, and was thrown against a heavy electric light wire, which he threw his arm around and clung to. HARDING then got the ladder where BROWN could reach it with his feet, and with the assistance of other men got him down.
One of the guests of the hotel was saved through the presence of mind of MARY MAY CAVENAUGH, the head waitress. Both had rooms on the fourth floor. MISS CAVENAUGH had gone back to her room for some clothing when she met the man groping in the blinding smoke, endeavoring to find the stairway.
"For God's sake, show me the way out!" he cried.
MISS CAVANAUGH caught him by the hair, and, both choking and gasping struggled on their knees to the stairway, making their escape.
Being so close to Christmas, the number of guests in the house was small -- 65 people. The Fraser House is owned by the Fraser House Co., Ltd., and has been managed for several years by FLOYD A. GOODWYN. The loss on the hotel and contents is about $75,000, with an insurance of $48,500. S. SEMPLINER, proprietor of the High Art Clothing Co., who occupied a store on the ground floor, lost $15,000, insurance $9,500; MITTS Bros., cigar dealers, lost $2,000, insurance unknown; FLOYD GOODWYN, proprietor of the hotel, lost $5,000, insurance $3,600; NOAH SOLOMAN, a New York jewelry agents trunk containing considerable jewelry, was burned.
All of the guests and employes lost their personal effects.

The Daily Chronicle Marshall Michigan 1906-12-24



article | by Dr. Radut