East New Market


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ca 1985 - Landmark fire remembered in East New Market

By Kim Thomas, Banner Staff Writer

East New Market – Around the turn of the century, the town square looked much different than the way it does now. A three-story wooden hotel once stood at one of the corners where the Realty Building is. The Chesadel Hotel, as it was known, was destroyed in a fire which occurred December 6, 1914. One East New Market resident, Mildred Isenberg, remembers the night of the fire.

It was a Sunday night, she recalled. She and a friend were on their way to church. They passed the hotel, owned by the Hooper family, and continued on their way when they realized if they arrived at church that early, they would have to sing in the choir. So, they turned around and started walking to kill some time. When they passed the hotel the second time, it was practically engulfed in flames.

Isenberg said the town had only one piece of fire equipment at the time. It was the type that had to be pulled or horse-drawn to a well where its tank was then filled up with buckets of water. "That’s the only thing they had, they just couldn’t stop it (the fire), it just had to burn," she said.

The entire hotel did burn, along with a drug store, post office, and several other stores. The fire was so bright that people between East New Market and Shiloh could read a newspaper from its light, she said.

An early edition of the Daily Banner reported the fire caused $50,000 worth of damage. The hotel had 40 rooms, a winding staircase, a livery stable, and was known over a wide area as one of the best on the Eastern Shore. Its loss was a blow to the town.

East New Market resident Elinor Camper does not remember the fire, but she remembers her parents telling her about it. According to Camper, the owner of the hotel did not believe in insurance, so he could not rebuild after the $50,000 fire.

East New Market resident Chuck Blake, who has been researching the fire, said even by today’s standards, the fire would have been difficult to fight – mostly because the hotel was a three-story wooden structure. According to Blake, there were two results of the fire. First, because of anxiety caused by the fire, the town installed a water system in 1917. Secondly, some citizens formed a group called the Realty Company and built the brick building that now stands on one of the town’s square corners, called the Realty Building.