Resurrecting Dayton's fiery historic disasters

Just like a lot of fast-growing towns in the West, Dayton had its share of fires. About the only structures spared were the ones made of stone. There are a couple of buildings in Old Town Dayton that escaped the rages of fire.

One was the building known as the butcher shop on Main Street. It now houses a pet-grooming business.

The other is known as the Braun and Loftus Building on the corner of Main and Pike streets. It recently has been refurbished and soon will be a new restaurant in our little historic district. I suppose I should include the Bluestone Building, which has survived a few disasters too.

Two big fires visited Dayton. In 1865, a fire started in the hay yard and swept up Main Street, burning most of the buildings on both sides.

It also went down Pike Street to Gold Creek. One of the buildings was the Odeon Hall that had been erected by the Odd Fellows. Although the fire gutted the building, the walls were left in good shape. The building was bought for a thousand dollars and rebuilt to house a fine restaurant. Tickets were sold for its opening for $10.

A second fire started close to the Odeon and swept down to Main Street in 1867. The lot on the corner of Main and Pike streets stood empty until 1906, when Mr. M. Quilici built a hotel and saloon. The Odeon was again rebuilt as it stands now.

Another fire in 1874 burned up Main Street to the Bluestone Building. That was the last of the wholesale fires. But in the 1980s, the Quilici Building was torched by arsonists and the corner of Main and Pike streets stood empty since.

It is now used for a parking area for the Gold Canyon Steak House. You can see pictures of the building on fire in the museum.

After the second fire, J.C. Gruber circulated a subscription paper for the purchase of a fire engine. He headed the list with a $100 donation. An engine was bought, but they found it was too small for Dayton.

It was sold to Yerington, and a larger engine was purchased. This engine was called "Our Engine."

We should hope that fire would be held in abeyance anywhere in downtown Dayton. It's difficult to relate any kind of history about a vacant piece of property. It falls into the "so what?" category when outsiders come to view our history. Let's do what we can to maintain the buildings and history of Dayton.

The Dayton Museum is on Shady Lane and Logan in Old Town Dayton and open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Check Group tours are available. Call 246-5543, 246-0462 or 246-0441.

The Historical Society of Dayton Valley meets at noon on the third Wednesday of the month at the Dayton Valley Community Center. Visitors welcome.

• Ruby McFarland has lived in Dayton since October 1987. She serves as a board member of the Dayton historical society and is a docent at the museum.


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