Old St. Andrews



Fire and Reconstruction 1914



Fire and Reconstruction of Algonquin 1914 – 1915


April 16/1914
Algonquin Hotel burned to the Ground
Property Valued at Three Quarters of a Million Dollars. Made Spectacular Blaze at St. Andrews on Saturday
If it had not been for the concrete additions which were made in recent years there would be nothing left of the stately Algonquin Hotel today but a heap of smouldering ruins. Every atom of wood work about the great building, including the central section, the roofs of the concrete wings, the wooden stairways and partitions, etc., was completely destroyed in the fire which began at noon on Saturday and raged throughout the afternoon.
            The fire originated from a charcoal spark which had gone beneath the shingles on the northeast concrete wing, whilst some repairs were being made by workmen. Smouldering on the tarred paper it worked its way to the woodwork while the men were at dinner, and a great conflagration was the result.
            The water supply which had been turned off for the winter had not been restored, so that there was little to fight the fire with except buckets. In less than an hour after the fire started, fanned by a westerly gale, the flames had eaten through to the four story central section of wood. Being highly inflammable it burned with great fierceness, the sparks being carried miles away. Some of them even set fire to the grass alongside Sir William Van Horne's summer home on Minister's Island. George Chase's farm building a mile away were fired by these wind blown sparks, but the fire was speedily extinguished. Half an hour after the flames had taken hold of the wooden section it was completely destroyed together with the board verandas in front.
            Then the fire penetrated the western concrete wing which was built two years ago. Everything of an inflammable nature in its five storeys was burned. It was feared that the explosion of the ammonia tanks near the refrigerator would result in possible accident to human life, but happily this did not occur. The fire burned in this section like a great furnace for several hours. It was a spectacular conflagration, and had it occurred at night would have been seen for many miles.
            Construction men say that the concrete wings have suffered little damage, and that they can be used again when the hotel is being restored. There were many beautiful summer cottages within the fire zone, but with the exception of No. 1 Algonquin cottage, which stood immediately the north of the hotel, all the cottages were saved. The summer cottage of George B. Hopkins of New York, which was separated from the hotel by only the width of the street, was on fire several times, but the firemen by desperate efforts succeeded in saving it. Had it burned, the summer houses of Mr. Gill, of Ottawa, Mr. Southam, of Ottawa, Mr. Douglas Seeley, of Montreal, Prof. Smith, of Cambridge, and possibly the summer residence of Sir Thomas Shaughnessy would have been destroyed.
            Nearly all the interior furnishings on the lower floor of the hotel were taken out before the fire reached it and were safely removed to the casino, but with this exception little of the contents of the hotel were saved. Manager Allerton was away at the time having gone to Boston on Friday night to engage his help for the season. It is the prevailing belief that while the destruction of the hotel has been a great loss to the town, it will lead to the construction of a more modern and more beautiful hotel.
            The Algonquin hotel was opened in 1889 with Mr. F. A. Jones, of St. John, as its first manager. Since then it has been enlarged and improved, the C. P .R. having spent nearly a quarter of a million upon it in making additions and in supplying it with modern equipment. The entire value of the hotel and furnishings was about three quarters of a million. It had accommodations for over 400 guests. Many enquiries for rooms had been received this year and a successful season was anticipated. It is understood that the property was well insured.


St. Andrews, N.B. April 13
            The Algonquin, a large summer hotel here, owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway, was destroyed with contents by fore [sic] Saturday at a loss of $500,000. The structure had been renovated recently, and was nearly ready for the opening in June. It contained 275 rooms with elaborate fittings.
            Starting on the shingle roof of the old part of the building, from a spark from a charcoal fire used in repairing the roof, and flames were quickly fanned beyond control by a high wind. There was practically no firefighting apparatus available, and in a short time all that remained standing was the concrete walls. A nearby cottage, also owned by the railroad company, was burned.
            The portion of the building which represented the original hotel was composed entirely of wood. It was five storeys in height with a wooden tower and lookout in the centre. This section burned with great fierceness, the sparks being carried miles away. Some of them even set fire to the grass alongside Sir William Van Horne's summer home on Ministers Island.
            The hotel first opened in 1889, with Mr. F. A. Jones of St. John, as manager. A few years later it passed into the hands of the C. P. R., who have spent at least a quarter of a million dollars improving it.
            The two new concrete wings had been built within the last couple of years, and the furnishings throughout were unusually elaborate for a seaside hotel, and was a favorite resort from the New England States and New York. Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, president of the C. P. R., Sir William Van Horne, Mr. C. R. Hosmer and Mr. Percy Cowans, of Montreal, beside several others, have private summer cottages here.
            Manager Allerton was in Boston engaging help for the coming season when the fire occurred. Mr. N. S. Dunlop, head of the C. P. R. insurance department, has arrived here to look into the loss.


St. Croix Courier
April 23/1914
D. Will MacKay has taken photographs of the ruins of the “Algonquin hotel for Peter Lyall and sons, contractors, Montreal. (CPR Archives series?)


St. Croix Courier
April 30/1914
The debris from the Algonquin fire is being rapidly cleared away. About one hundred men are employed. then will follow the rebuilding of the hotel. The contract for rebuilding the Algonquin has been let to R. A. Clark. The new structure will be of concrete and will be ready for business in the summer of 1915.


July 9/1914
The two vital questions of the moment in St. Andrews are those of the present inadequate summer arrangement of the C. P. R. train service, and of the pressing necessity of a general system of water supply for the town.
            There are not two opinions in the whole community in regard to the C. P. R. train service, all citizens, indeed all persons who have any connexion whatever with the town, are unanimous in their condemnation of the treatment St. Andrews is receiving this summer at the hands of the C. P. R. Because, forsooth, the Algonquin Hotel was destroyed by fire, the citizens of this town are to be denied a right they have enjoyed for more than thirty years. Is the town regarded as an adjunct to the hotel? The destruction of the hotel was itself a great loss to the town, but it is not claimed that the fire was of incendiary origin. Then why punish the citizens doubly for what is no fault of theirs, and which they could do nothing to avert? Let us have our former summer train service restored at once; and let us see to it that the service next winter is greatly improved. Every citizen of this town, every visitor here, contributes something to the revenue of the C. P. R., and it is a short-sighted policy of this great national transportation company to do, or to neglect to do, anything to antagonize so many of its patrons. Two trains a day are as necessary to St. Andrews this summer as during any summer in the past. [cut back to one train per day, then, as in winter]
            The question of a system of water works for the town appears to be on a different basis, inasmuch as the desire for it is not unanimous, however incredible this may appear to those who wish to promote the best interests of . . . [get the rest of this]


St. Croix Courier
July 23/1914
The New Algonquin Bigger and Better
A Concrete Structure with Accommodation for over five hundred guests in course of construction
The plans for the new Algonquin hotel, as approved by the president of the CPR, have arrived at SA, the contract has been let, and all is now in readiness for the construction of the new building which will be pushed forward as rapidly as possible.
            The contract for the superstructure which it is estimated will cost within the vicinity of one hundred thousand dollars, has been awarded to the Peter Lyall and Sons Construction Company, Limited, of Montreal, and they are under contract to have their part of the work finished by the last of October.
            The building will be constructed entirely of reinforced concrete, all partitions to be of terra cotta, with fire proof doors between the wings, thus making it as nearly fireproof as possible. The new hotel, when completed, will be a handsome and imposing structure of six stories, with accommodation for five hundred and fifty guests and three hundred employees.
            On the ground floor there will be two main entrances, one to the large rotunda of the hotel, which is ninety feet long by twenty feet wide, with a fireplace at each end, and a ladies’ entrance to the drawing room, which room will be fifty feet by forty feet. In the center of the main building, as one enters will be found the general office, manager’s office, telephone exchange, news stand, etc. The large a spacious dining room, one hundred and nine feet by forty one feet, with seating capacity for five hounded guests, is situated on this floor, at the west end. Connected with the main dining hall are two private dining rooms, the officers’ dining room, and children’s dining rooms. There will also be ladies’ sitting room, and writing and reading rooms. The barber shop, billiard rooms, barroom and café, for the use of the guess will be situated directly under the main office. The remaining four stories will be composed of sleeping apartments. Spacious verandas and balconies will adorn the buildings.
            The men in charge of this tremendous undertaking, and upon whom the responsibility rests, are Manger A. A. Allerton of the Algonquin, who is keeping a watchful eye on all phases of the work; George Archer, superintendent of the Lyall Construction Company Limited; Robert A. Clark, local superintendent of the CPR. Mr. Clark has eighty five men employed, and is making splendid progress with his end of the work. Mr. Huch is inspector for the CPR on the new building, which work it is expected, will be completed early next week. Concrete mixtures and other necessary machinery, are now being et up to be in readiness and with the arrival of two hundred and fifty men during the next few days the work will be full swing and will be rushed forward with all possible speed as the hotel must be completed and ready for the reception of guests by the firs of June next.
            The CPR are sparing no trouble nor expanse in order to make this magnificent building one of the finest of its kind on the Atlantic coast and everything for the accommodation and comfort of the guests is being worked out to the smallest detail.
            The CPR Inn at Indian Point is now open and ready for the reception of guests with Mrs. Allerton in charge. During the past week about twenty guests have registered.


Beacon (f9822)
Nov 26/1914
Design and Construction of the New C. P. R. Hotel
Schematic of new section and wings.
In April this year the Algonquin Hotel, owned by the C. P. R., was almost entirely destroyed by fire. The main building, of frame construction, was completely burned, and only the shells of the wings were left standing. It was decided to rebuild, and Messrs. Barott, Blacader, and Webster, architects, Montreal, were instructed to draw up plans. The contract for the main building was let to P. Lyall and Sons Construction Company, Limited, Montreal, while the restoration of the wings was undertaken by the C. P. R. building construction department, of which Mr. D. F. Mapes is superintendent.
            As will be seen on the plans reproduced, it has been decided to adhere to the original plan of a main building with two wings. The hotel stands on a site covering 28,000 feet and will be constructed almost entirely of reinforced concrete, terra cotta partitions being utilized in the interior. In order to give an artistic appearance to the front of the main building, a quantity of lumber, embedded in concrete, is employed. The roof is of red slate.
            The building, consisting of four stories and two basements, will have accommodation for 200 [error—500 guests] guests. The basement and sub-basement are, owing to the sloping character of the ground constructed at a lower level than the greater part of the main building. These basements are partly situated in the front portion of the hotel, and are continued under what is known as the kitchen wing. They contain servants’ quarters, officers’ quarters, helps’ dining room, refrigerating plant, bakery, laundry, men’s lounge, common room, servery, etc. An open terrace is built over the front portion of the basement, and as higher ground is reached, a verandah is constructed right around one side of the building.
            The first floor, entered from the verandah, is arranged so that he lobby is place between the dining room 41 1/192 x 112 ft.)--the largest room in the hotel--and the lounge (2 1/192 feet x. 89 1/192 feet). These can also be entered from the terrace and verandah respectively. The drawing room (27 ft. x 38 1/192 feet) leads off the dining room. Behind these rooms and facing the rear portion of the hotel, are children’s dining room, private dining room, sitting room, office, news stand, ticket and telegraph booths, manager’s office, smoking room, etc.
            The first floor portion of the kitchen wing, which runs off the dining room and lobby, is devoted entirely to kitchen purposes. These include service, dish washing, cup, vegetable, meat and poultry, knife and glass departments, and officers’ dining room. The other wing, leading from a corridor at the side of the drawing room, contains a number of bedrooms. The entire second and third floors, including the wings, are given up to bedrooms; 97 of these have private baths and 22 have private lavatories. In the attic, bedroom accommodation is also provided, while here is also situated maids’ and male helps’ quarters, dormitory, and common room.
            A boiler house is constructed about 300 feet from the main building. This contains three boilers and two generators for the purpose of providing electric light, power, heat and hot water.
            The keynote of the furnishing is to be simplicity, as becomes a purely summer hotel. Most of the bedrooms and public rooms will have hardwood floors. With the object of minimizing the risk of fire, automatic fire doors have been provided, dividing each floor into five sections, which can be isolated in case of an outbreak. Thus on the first floor there are seven such doors, which can be very quickly brought into operation.
            The C. P. R. have in hand all the electrical work; the Garth Company, Montreal, the plumbing and heating; MacFarlane and Douglas, Ottawa, sheet metal and roofing; Murray and Gregory, St. John, a portion of the mill work; while the Otis-Fensom Elevator Company, Limited, Montreal, have the contact for two elevators--one passenger and one freight.


April 1/1915
New Algonquin Hotel Nearing Completion
The new Algonquin Hotel, which has been erected on the site of the building partially destroyed by the fire on April 11 last, is fast approaching completion, inside and outside.
            The new Hotel is a six-storied structure of reinforced concrete throughout, only two wings of the former building having been so constructed, and has terra partitions and a roof of red slates from quarries in Wales. A large veranda, which commands a magnificent view, extends along the entire office floor; and from the main entrance along the front to the northern wing is a second veranda to which access is gained from the second floor. The grounds at the rear of the building are to be terraced, but those at the front remain as before.
            The Hotel is fitted throughout with electric light, hot-water heating apparatus, electric elevators, and a telephone system connected with all the rooms.
            Each guest room, of which there are 220, is fitted with extra large clothes closets, running water, and bath and closet connexion arranged to serve two adjoining rooms. Besides the guest rooms there is sleeping accommodation for 250 employees, which is also provided with lavatories, baths, etc.
            On the office floor are situated the main office, news stand, telegraph office, telephone exchange, ticket and information bureau, manager’s office, ladies’ reception room, gentlemen’s smoking room, ladies’ drawing room of large size with a retiring room connected, manicure parlor, barber shop, and coat and chick room; and from the main lounge room, which adjoins the office, there are three stairways, besides the elevators.
            The main dining room, which is also situated on the office floor, is 112 1/192 feet by 49 1/192 feet, and has a magnificent view from every part of it. Besides this there is a private dining room, an officers’ dining room, and one for nurses and children.
            The kitchen, which is being finished in white enamel, is probably the most interesting feature of the Hotel. It is conveniently arranged, and is fitted with all those modern appliances which the present-day chef requires, and which only an expert could describe. It is stated that there is no better equipped hotel kitchen in Canada than this one.
            The gentlemen’s lounge room, which is on the floor below the office, and near the entrance, is a most attractive room, with tile floor, open fireplace, and all the fittings necessary for comfort.
            The basement contains the bakery, ice-cream freezing room, two main refrigerator plants, steward’s office, general storeroom, baggage room, wine room, coal bunkers, and the entrance to the tunnel leading to the laundry nearby.
            The finish of the entire Hotel is plain and bright. The carpeting on the office floor is to be green; on the second floor brown, on the third green, and on the fourth brown.
            Great care was taken in the reconstruction to render the Hotel fireproof, and the metal fire-doors which cut off the different wings and stairways are held by fusible links which, in the event of fire, would melt should the temperature be raised to 100 degrees or over, and thus close the doors automatically.
            The lavatories, bath-rooms and shower baths on each floor are fitted with the very latest equipments. The shower baths have an arrangement that prevents the water from becoming too hot.
            Mr. A. Allerton, the genial and accomplished Manager, who has been daily watching the work of rebuilding, is look forward to a very busy season, which opens on June 15 next; and already 200 guests are booked, who will occupy 144 of the rooms.
            With such a magnificent Hotel, the property of our great transportation Company, the Canadian Pacific Railway, which is undoubtedly the best summer hostelry in America, accommodation will be provided for a portion of the ever increasing number of people who are attracted to St. Andrews in the summer months by its healthful climate, its beautiful situation and magnificent scenery, its famous golf links, its unrivalled facilities for yachting (Passamaquoddy Bay being almost completely land-locked seaward, thereby excluding the heavy ocean swell), its bathing, its delightful drives and good roads, and its thousand-and-one charms which endear it to the natives of the town and surrounding country and to all who have ever visited it.
            The coming summer is likely to see even a larger influx of visitors to St. Andrews than usual in the past, in view of the war in Europe which will prevent from going there so many thousands of Americans and Canadians who must go somewhere for the summer. St. Andrews will welcome them all; and all who come will be delighted


June 10/1915
Opening of the Algonquin
Tuesday next, June 15, will be a “red letter” day for SA, for on that day the Algonquin Hotel, which has risen, Phoenix-like, from its ashes, opens its doors once more to receive its patrons. Not only does this Hotel mean much to the Town in bringing here a large number of well-to-do visitors, but during the months when it is open the Canadian Pacific Railway provides a service of two trains a day. When the Hotel shuts its doors in September, and until it reopens in June, the townspeople have to content themselves with one train a day. The whole community is treat by the C. P. R. as an adjunct to the Hotel, and the citizens,--willingly in some cases, most unwillingly for the most part,--acquiesce in the conditions forced upon them. But if a better train service throughout the year is to be obtained, the citizens must unite, and by their united efforts compel the C. P. R. to treat St. Andrews with at least as much consideration as it does St. Stephen.
            With a system of water works installed (which it must have before St. Andrews can make any progress whatever), and a good train service throughout the year, the old Shiretown would recover all its pristine activity and importance, the old cellars would be surmounted by flourishing places of business, and the vacant lots would have built thereon homes for a largely-increased population. To accomplish this it only necessary for the citizens to cooperate, and to display a spirit of enterprise which is now, unfortunately, dormant.