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The Rossie Hotel Burns.

Feb 1 1986

by Francis A. Pound ,Times staff writer.

The historic Rossie Hotel, which stood since 1811, was destroyed by fire this morning.

Only the brick facing remained standing, according to one observer , Lyle E. Rogers: "Its a complete loss."

The fire apparently started around a chimney.

Owners Paul & Kathleen Van-Sant fled to safety, but lost their possessions in the blaze.

They & James Tarkowski, who occupied a tenant trailer on the property, unsuccessfully tried to remove a truck & bulldozer from an attached garage before being forced back by the flames.

Firemen were also dousing the nearby residence of John Welsh family to prevent it form bursting into flames.

The VanSants & co-owner Richard Thurner, Spragueville, also owned the Devils Elbow Inn , Macomb, which was destroyed by fire within weeks of their reopening of the Rossie Hotel in January 1983.

Hammond , Antwerp , Oxbow , & Brier Hill firemen were called to two-story brick & wooden structure after the Jefferson County Sherff's Dept. recived a call of a chimney fire at the hotel at 6:29 am. They were still at the scene at 9:15 am.

Smoke from the two-story structure was visable for miles around.

The hotel was in realty two sections , A brick building with an attached wooden addition.

The hotel, which became a focal point for the village activities, was built in 1811 for wealthy landowner & businessman David Parish, with the horse sheds later converted to garage stalls, & a second-story dancehall built in 1890.

Ther VanSants purchased the hotel about three years ago.

Mr. Rogers , one of the first persons on the scene, said flames were "shooting thought the roof" of the hotel when he first saw the blaze about 6:30 am.

" I saw the glow on my neighbor's house & along the river towards Hammond. "Mr Rogers said . Fearing at first the fire may have been at the home of his niece, Mrs. Steve ( Luella Marteir), he went to warn them."

On stepping outside, though, he realized the fire was at the hotel.

" "I saw the flames just shotting thought the roof of the hotel." Mr. Rogers Said.

He rushed the hotel where Mr. VanSant & Mr. Tarkowski were trying to save the vehicles.

" It looked like a chimney fire," Mr. Rogers said.

Mr. Rogers said steam was also "rolling right off the roof" Of the Walsh Residence, separated from the hotel only by a driveway.

Firemen, Drawing water from the Indian River, where hosing down the structure.

There were no reports of injuries.

Rossie Mourns a Friend.

by Martha Ellen ,Times Staff Writer.

A piece of Rossie's heart smoldered Monday as a steady stream of of mourners came to pay their respects.

No longer an essential part of the community at the time of its demise, The Rossie Hotel was neverless a symbol of the town to outsiders & a source of pride & memories for the townfolks.

Saturday, townfolks turned out in a crowd to see for themselfs that the hotel was no more ,The victum of a raging fire begun by a woodstove , that swept through the 175-year-old structure.

"When they come & look, they just look. They don't have much to say. I know whats going on in their heads: its gone," said John A. Welsh, who has lived next to the hotel all his life.

" I think there's some awful strong feelings. The people will miss it," Mr. Welsh said.

The fire is another blow to a town which has had its share of of troubles.

In recent years , the post office closed its doors, & the mail is now handled thru Hammond. The general store , in town which once had enought trade for two groceries, is now only open in the summer.

" Its like it was running though your fingers," said the former town supervisor Mark Scarlett, now a member of the Development Authority of the North Country.

Although memories live on more in people's thought's than in physical reminders, the hotel represented more than good times.

" Its almost our oldest building," said town historian Elwood M. Simons.

Rossie's first structure was a boarding house which still stands at the foot of the the hamlet's second bridge.

" We were proud of the fact that it had been built so many years ago," said Frances Gardner, A Rossie resident for 55 years.

Dances, church suppers, & even basketball games resounded through the halls of the hotel.

" did we use to lick the Hammond team?' Mr.Walsh asked rhetorically, a wisp of a smile crossing his face.

During world war II , Mr. Simons attended a dance at the hotel during a black-out.

" the band kept playing & we danced in the dark," he said.

Even during Prohibition, the hotel stayed alive as a barber shop & a boarding house.

When the dance hall closed in the early 1950s for safety reasons, the hotel slowly began to lose its focus as a community gathering spot for year-round residents.

In the summer, fishermen continued to cast their luck into the Indian River which runs through the hamlet & on its way to Black Lake a few miles away.

At the hotel, former proprietor Ray Gilligan, who now lives in Wegatchie, was always there to hear another tale of the one that got away.

More people came to Rossie's shores in the 1960s than seem to now, said Kevin L. Youngs, who lives on the hill behind the hotel.

As a teenager, Mr. Youngs used to earn quarters from people wanting him to watch their boats while they went on shore.

"You don't see that anymore," he said.

Although new owners Paul VanSant, His wife Kathleen, & Richard Thurner, had begun the restoration process, the hotel had not regained its former position as the hub of Rossie.

Instead, Mrs. Gardner said,"it was just a bar."

While the hotel was not the hotbed of activity as in its past, "still, it was there," said Thelma Petrie, former Rossie postmistress.

While Mr. VanSant is considering rebuilding plans, most residents are currently most interested in having the debris of the their memories cleared away.

For the future , Mr. Simons sugested a smaller tavern or restaurant " without all of the fanfare that goes with a monstrous building like that," might be a welcome addition.

A fifth-generation resident of Rossie, Mr. Simmons said while "saddened by the loss of the hotel," the town will recover.

"We're still proud people living in out community for genertions," he said.

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