Friday, December 01, 2006

99 years ago today

The city block located where the Harris County Administration Building sits today was the scene of a large fire Dec. 1, 1907.

Fortunately, no one was killed in the blaze, but three people were injured by falling debris.

What caused the fire was a matter of speculation the following day, the Chronicle reported. Most witnesses at the time heard an explosion just before the fire started.

One such witnesses was H.J. Larson, deputy county clerk. He told the Chronicle in its Dec. 2 edition that while standing at Main and Congress, an explosion appeared to lift the roof of the Dunn Building "several feet and then settle back in place again." By the time firefighters arrived, the blaze spread to other buildings on the same block.

Among the items lost in the fire were federal court papers. The court was located on the top floor of the Houston Theatre Building which was destroyed.

"There was not a vault or safe provided for all of the valuable papers and decrees of the court and except for reports sent to Washington, the court will be without a paper or record to show the disposition of a single case which ever came before the court in this city," the Chronicle reported.

Other buildings destroyed and/or damaged were:

  • The Houston Theatre on Main Street
  • The Julia Sellers Building, Congress at Fannin
  • The Miller Building, Preston at Fannin
  • The Pillot Building, Main Street
  • Three saloons, including the Texas Bar
  • The Levy Brothers Building
  • The J.J. Sweeney Jewelry Company Building, Congress at Main

The Sweeney Company Building, aka the Sweeney, Coombs & Fredericks Building still exists.

In the end, damage was estimated at $477,500 ($9,800,005 in today's dollars).

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