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The 1885 Rising Sun Tavern Fire

The Rising Sun Tavern, (then owned by the heirs of the late David F. Mann) along with a number of other buildings, burned down on 18 December 1885. At the time, the four ground floor storerooms in the Rising Sun were occupied by Harry Gilchrist, a confectioner; R. B. Metcalfe, a saddler and upholsterer; J. M. Hoffer, a jeweler and White’s Saloon. The second floor was occupied by two families: Mrs. A. W. Anderson and her three children and John Harris his daughter, Camilla and her husband Joe Diehl and their daughter, Missouri.

The other buildings that would be involved in the conflagration included a small building owned by Simon Ling (which would be totally consumed) and a structure owned by Dr. J. A. McCullough, in which Dexter White operated a restaurant and bar.

At around 11:00pm Mrs. Anderson was awakened, immediately smelling smoke from a fire that had started in the storeroom below her apartment. She called for help and a policeman heard her. He roused about a dozen other men, who responded to the call. After getting the families in the second floor apartments out safely, they forced the door of Mr. Metcalfe’s storeroom open. They found it to be engulfed in flames. Some of the men went to the firehouse to retrieve the hose carriage, but one thing after another went wrong. There was difficulty getting the carriage out of the engine house. Then enroute, three of the wheels fell off. With the carriage lying where it dropped, the hose was spread out from it. In trying to couple a few lengths of hose together, it was discovered that the necessary reducers were missing. Nearly twenty minutes went by before the hose connections were obtained and water was made available to put out the fire. Unfortunately, the high winds had fanned the flames more and the pressure of the water coming out of the hoses was very low. The men could not get ahead of the fire. The Everett fire department was called by telephone, but the man supposed to be answering their calls could not be aroused from sleep. The fire company at Huntingdon was also called, and they started out to help, but the buildings were lost before the Huntingdon crew could arrive.

The Mann and McCullough buildings were both destroyed in the blaze. The large brick building to the east of the Rising Sun was owned by Captain S. S. Metzger. It housed Wright’s store and the Bedford House hotel. Luckily it was saved from destruction too.

As a result of the fire, the large chimney on the Rising Sun fell forward. It struck the outer, north, wall of the stone structure and toppled it with a crash. It was said that the stones hit the ground with such force that one of them hit the door of the Adam Carn house on the opposite side of Pitt Street, making a big dent in it. The layer of snow over everything helped to keep the fire from spreading to nearby buildings, despite a steady wind that carried burning debris away from the Rising Sun.

Over the succeeding years new buildings were erected on the site of the Commandant’s House / Rising Sun Tavern. The open yard that lay between the west wall of the Rising Sun and the Juliana and Pitt Streets intersection became the site of the Ridenour Building, constructed in 1898. The three floors and immense dimensions of the building (it measured approximately sixty by sixty feet) soon spawned the name ‘Ridenour Block.’ Three brick buildings filled in the space between the Ridenour and the Italianate structure that was unharmed in the fire.

The photos below show the stone/log/brick structure that started as the Kings or Commandant's House and later became the Rising Sun Tavern.