Forgotten Trails: Article recalls Masonic fire

Published 3:27 pm Wednesday, April 25, 2007

By Staff
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the fire at W.S. Neal High School and I wanted to follow up by telling you of another fire that occurred just a few weeks later. In March 1950, the following appeared in The Brewton Standard.
Two of the three stories in the brick building were destroyed by flames, while the ground floor was flooded by water.
The building is located on Belleville Avenue in downtown Brewton and was occupied by the local Masonic lodge, a law firm, a doctor and The Brewton Standard. Damage was estimated in excess of $50,000.
The fire at the Masonic Temple was the fourth major blaze to strike Brewton in the past two years.
The fire apparently started shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday in the law offices of Leon G. Brooks and Broox G. Garrett. These offices were on the second floor of the building. The flames then spread to the adjacent office of Dr. Robert E. Low located on the same floor.
Local firemen fought unsuccessfully to confine the flames to the second floor. About five o'clock the fire broke into the third floor, which was the meeting place of Norris Lodge No. 301 of the Free and Accepted Masons.
The third floor burned out about seven o'clock and the roof fell into the ruins of the lower part of the building.
Firemen from Flomaton and Naval Air Station Whiting Field aided the local fire department in fighting the flames. The fire fighters were able to keep the fire from burning the lower floor of the building, which is occupied by The Brewton Standard.
Norris Lodge had $25,000 insurance on the building, while The Brewton Standard, the law firm and Dr. Low were partially covered by insurance.
Brooks and Garrett moved into the old Grammar School building near the Court House while Dr. Low has temporary offices in the Citizens Bank building. The Brewton Standard has moved into the Pepsi-Cola building in Alco. This week's issue of the paper was printed in Evergreen by The Evergreen Courant.
Norris Lodge will hold meetings in the science laboratory at Miller High School, according to I.M. Enfinger, officer of the lodge. Clifton L. Steele, Worshipful Master of the local Masons, said regular meetings will be held in the temporary hall. The Brewton Chapter of Eastern Star also will use the same temporary location.
Fire Chief A.J. Atkins said the local fire department had no smoke masks to use in entering the building. Heavy clouds of smoke filled all three floors during the fire.
While fire destroyed the upper floors, tons of water poured into the ground floor and damaged stock and equipment of The Brewton Standard.
A second minor fire broke out in the ruined second floor Monday morning about five o'clock, but it was controlled by local firemen. It brought more water into the ground floor.
Saturday morning the flames were apparently checked three times, only to break from control.
The building was constructed in 1908.
While some records were lost by all occupants of the building, many files were found to be unusable. Norris Lodge had most of its valuable records stored in a safety deposit box.
Cause of the fire was not determined.”
Some of these back issues are filled with all sorts of articles. Some of them happened so long ago as to be of historical significance today.
Some of them I am bringing to you as I discover them and others I am saving for a particular time. Sometime around football season, I will recount the story of the first football team organized in Brewton in 1895. I even have a photograph to go with it.
If your have any stories or photographs that you would share, I would certainly be glad to hear from you. I can scan the photographs and give them right back to you. My email address is or you can reach me at 867-4876, P.O. Box 887 or come by the office at 407 St. Nicholas Avenue.

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