Fryeburg Village Fire Companies ~ Fires
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This corporation was chartered March 1, 1887, for the purpose of organizing for protection from fire. On the last day of the month an organizing meeting was held at which John C. Gerry was chosen clerk; Thos. C. Shirley, treasurer; Asa 0. Pike, Wm. Gordon and John Weston, assessors; and A. R. Jenness, F. L. Mark and Seth W. Fife, fire wardens. This action followed the burning of the original and celebrated Oxford House which occurred Feb. 14, preceding.
The earliest DESTRUCTIVE FIRE of note was in 1 843, Sept. 15, when “Eastman’s Coffee House,” with two stores and two stables were burned. Twenty years later, Nov. 17, 1863, the store of Major T. C. Wand and Dea. John Evans’ shop on Portland street were burned. In the shop were the last relics of the original Academy which had been removed to the site of the stone school house where it was occupied for school purposes until replaced by the stone structure. It was then converted into the shop and dwelling.
The last and most destructive fire in the annals of the town occurred Aug. 31, 1906, when a fire started in the new Oxford House then occupied by one hundred guests. ‘Although the fire started about 10 o’clock A. M., it was soon beyond control and before it could be subdued $150,000 worth of village property and many of the stately elms which had graced Portland street for a century and which time alone can replace, were ruined. Among the destroyed property was H. G. Freeman’s printing plant with all machinery; S. W. Fife’s house and a store occupied as a millinery by Mrs. Fife; Mrs. Barker’s millinery store, house, stable and barn; the old Fryeburg House not occupied, besides seven residences. It also run over an extensive area of the plains and burned the old grist mill south of the village.
The original OXFORD HOUSE was erected in 1801 by Samuel Osgood and was probably the most celebrated house in this part of New England. The new Oxford was erected in 1893, on a larger plan than the original, and was opened to the public July 15, that year.
A HOOK AND LADDER with 1,000 feet of hose and a hose carriage were bought in April 1887. The hose house was soon after erected. 400 feet of hose was purchased later, but about one-half of the hose was burned in the late fire. The village is now well protected.
Electric Lights were introduced into the stores and dwellings in 1901, and the following year a system of street lighting installed. In 1904, the chair factory which supplied the power was burned, and for about one year no lights were provided. Mr. McIntire then furnished power from his saw mill for a short period. For a year past no power has been supplied and the streets have not been lighted. The Fryeburg Electric Light Co. consists of local business men.