Norfolk, VA Business Block Fire, Feb 1902

Virginia Town Suffered $500,000 Loss in
Destruction of Main Hotel and
Business Block

NORFOLK, Va., Jan. 31 — The Atlantic
Hotel, the Columbia Office Building, which
adjoined the hotel, the Albemarle Flatst
and a block of stores in the centre of
the city were destroyed early this morning
by the most destructive fire that Norfolk
has had in thirty years.
The damage is estimated at $500,000. The fire had its origin in the Columbia Building, a six-story structure, and was discovered at 1:55 o'clock
this morning. Shortly afterward 1,000 gallons
of whisky stored in the building exploded,
tearing out the front wall, and fifteen minutes later the north wall, which was over seventy-five feet high, fell in. annihilating the home of the fashionable Virginia Club, adjoining on the north.
It was evident early that the Atlantic
Hotel was doomed. About three hundred
guests and employees in the hotel were
aroused, and, so far as is known, all escaped.
J. C. Ready of Brooklyn, however,
had a narrow escape. The flames next
spread to the five-story Albemarle apartment
house, and then extended to the
block facing the Atlantic and running from
Plume to Main Street. Within an hour
they were in ruins. Other property nearby was threatened, but the wind changed
about 4 o'clock, and the fire after that
was under control.
The loss of the owners of the Atlantic
Hotel is about $250,000, covered by insurance,
and of the Columbia buildings, $100,000, on which there was $35,000 insurance.
Col. J. Hull Davidson, who conducted
the American Cafe at the Paris
Exposition, is the lessee of the Atlantic
Hotel. Others who suffered large losses
were the Southern, Baltimore and Ohio,
and Norfolk and Western Railways; Nottingham
& Wrenn, wood and coal dealers;
the Equitable Life Assurance Company.
Dodson's drug store, Vermillion's liquor
store, and Salomonsky's tailoring establishment,
all with offices in the Atlantic
Hotel Building, and C. R. Brown & Nedds,
D. Lowenberg, the owner, and numerous
professional firms, who had offices in the
Columbia Building. Ten on the block were destroyed
with the Albemarle Flats, including Johnston's
china store, Gary & Shipp. tailors: Hatch
& Dean, furnishers: Motter, Dewitt & Co.,
brokers; Stephenson & Taylor, brokers; the
Norfolk and Western foreign freight department,
and the office of the Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia Air Line.

Feb. 1, 1902 edition of The New York Times