Downer Building Completely Gutted in Early Morning Fire
Hampton Union, Thursday, September 16, 1948
One building was completely gutted and the entire center of the business center at Hampton Beach threatened a short time this morning as flames destroyed the Downer block between A and B streets on Ocean Avenue.
Effective work by the Hampton Fire Department aided by a favorable wind kept the blaze from spreading to the Fairview and Moulton hotels which flanked the building on either side.
No estimate of damage was possible at press time, although Fire Chief George Lamott stated that the loss would run very high. Three stores were completely destroyed, Downer's restaurant, Renwood Tea Room, both owned and operated by the Downer brothers and the Miniature Circus operated by A. Randall Capro. The building was owned by Mrs. Ruth S. Downer of Southbridge, Mass.; and John E. Downer, Jr., of Amesbury.
The Moulton hotel on the north side was blistered and the glass in several windows cracked as firemen fought to control the blaze. The Fairview hotel in the Garland block on the south side received some paint damage.
Aid was summoned from Portsmouth, Salisbury and Seabrook, but due to the alertness and efficiency of the Hampton department did not go into action.
It was just 33 years ago next week, September 23, to be exact, that the big fire of 1915 started on B street just in back of what is now Garland's and swept the entire business area from B street to Highland Avenue including the Ashworth hotel, finally being halted after destroying the Episcopal chapel on Highland avenue.
The other big fire of 1921 which is recalled by many residents, starting in approximately the same area from B street to the Ashworth, this time being halted just short of the Ashworth hotel.