After the Fire of 1880
May 18, 1880
The May 27th Potter
County Journal listed all the businesses and property that were
destroyed as well as temporary relocations.
With such devastation, rebuilding had to begin immediately.
Businesses that had been burned out found temporary abodes around town and
businessmen began the process of cleaning up their lots in preparation to
rebuilding. The Journal faithfully published each relocation. However,
our forebears were a tough and decisive lot:
- On May 19th, the Town Council enacted Ordinance
54 which defined the fire limits of the business district and required
that all buildings inside the fire limit be built of brick or stone and
have roofs made of slate or tin.
- By Thursday, cleanup of burned-out lots was in full swing.
- By Friday, the 20th, the two insurance agents in town were paying claims
(try that today!).
- By May 27th, most of the burned out merchants had temporary homes and
the Journal published a list of where each merchant was located. A series
of small wooden temporary buildings was going up east of the jail to house
- By July 27th, a brickyard that could turn out 10,000 bricks a day was
running on Second street and another brickyard had been started just above
the first by William and Jesse Brine.
By December Main Street was beginning to assume the appearance we are familiar
with today: Victorian-style brick and stone buildings - at least two new brick
buildings had been completed. They belonged to M. S. Thompson and P. A. Stebbins.
The brick was homogeneous because it was all locally made.
If you have ever wondered why the downtown architecture is all
from the same period, it is because of this fire. The great fire transformed
Coudersport's business architecture from New England hodgpodge that it was
to the Victorian that it still is today.
Before the Fire
The Fire of 1880