Rochester, NH Block Fire, Sep 1936

Rochester NH Area Of The Fire.jpg



Rochester, Sept. 11 -- Still undetermined is the origin of a fire which early yesterday morning caused damage estimated at $100,000 to the MICHAEL block, drove seven persons into the street and threatened to wipe out the whole business district of the city.
The heaviest damage was suffered by the J. J. NEWBERRY Co., occupying the ground floor of the four-story structure. The store's entire stock was destroyed.
MR. and MRS. JOSEPH HUGHES were forced to flee from second floor rooms, escaping with only a few personal belongings. Driven from an adjoining block by the smoke and heat were MISS DOROTHY MORSE, MR. and MRS. CHARLES JACKSON and MR. and MRS. BERNARD MORTIMER.
Rooms occupied by the F. L. NEWTON barber shop on the second floor and by RICHARD CLARK'S dancing school on the third floor, were badly gutted. JOSEPH MICHAEL, owner of the block, said he believed the total damage would amount to $100,000.
Only a heroic battle by Rochester firemen prevented the blaze from spreading to neighboring buildings.
The only casualty was ERNEST COUTURE, a fireman attached to the Gonic division, whose wrist was badly cut when a hose he was holding was pulled back sudenly and his hand was forced through a window pane.
The fire was discovered by RUDY CAMIRE and DICK BRADBURY, employes of the Wyandotte mill, who saw flames shooting from the building in the rear of the NEWBERRY store about 3:25 a.m. CAMIRE sent in an alarm from Box 12 and BRADBURY ran to the fire station.
Fireman reached the scene quickly, laid eight lines of hose and used three pumpers. The ceiling in the rear of the store and the floor at the entranvce caved in. Firemen fought the flames from precarious positions on the roofs of adjoining buildings. It was 10:45 a.m. before the fire was wholly subdued.
CYRIL MEUSER, manager of the Newberry store, said that when he left the building at 10:15 p.m. there was no sign of fire. Officer FELIX SANFACON said he saw no sign of any blaze when he made his rounds at 3 a.m. -- less than a half-hour before the fire was discovered by CAMIRE and BRADBURY.

Portsmouth Herald New Hampshire 1936-09-11


This JJ newberry building

My family now owns the Michael Block Building, or JJ Newberry. It is now a gymnastics school called Kelly's Gymnastics. It all now makes sense. The first floor (the gym area) extends all the way back as the four story part does not. I believe that half of the building caved in as well when the back of the building's ceiling caved in. It makes more sense.