Historic Whittier Hotel Burned
The Hamptons Union, Thursday, January 18, 1917
Hotel Whittier, one of the old landmarks of this vicinity, known by reputation throughout the United States, was burned to the ground late Friday afternoon. The origin of the fire is unknown.
Hotel Whittier was established over a hundred years ago and has been open the year round until Dec. 31 last, when it was closed by the lessee, Levi Wilcutt of Farmington, for the winter. The property is owned by O. H. Whittier, who conducted the hotel up to five years ago.
The hotel was situated in the heart of Hampton village at the junction of Lafayette and Beach [now Winnacunnet] roads, two of the most traveled thoroughfares in this vicinity, and was well known to traveling men and pleasure tourists.
The fire was discovered about 5:30 o'clock Friday afternoon by Miss Mary Toppan, who resides opposite the hotel, and Clifford Lindsey. At that time dense smoke was pouring from a third story window. The alarm was spread and volunteer firefighters gathered speedily, but the flames made rapid progress through the wooden building and in a very short time the entire structure was a mass of flames. It was apparent that the building was doomed from the start and attention was paid to preventing the destruction of the surrounding buildings.
But for the coolness and determination of Miss Ada Philbrick, the operator at the telephone exchange, it is possible that the garage, stables, barns, bowling alleys and other outbuildings and possibly a number of residences would have been burned.
She remained at her post although pretty much everything had been removed from the office excepting the switchboard, and the building was covered with burning embers by the strong wind sweeping toward the exchange, and summoned aid from the fire departments of North Hampton and other nearby towns.
The Hampton Beach firemen were quickly to the scene, but were greatly handicapped on account of the cold weather, the thermometer registering only a few degrees about zero. While the blaze is said to have started in the kitchen from some unknown cause, it is said that Mrs. Wilcutt visited the hotel shortly before 5 o'clock ostensibly to close a window that had been left open, and found nothing wrong.
The hotel and contents were valued at $16,000 and was partly insured.
A Fireman's Righteous Protest
To the Editor of The Hamptons Union
The Hamptons Union, Thursday, January 25, 1917
In the article in your last week's issue relating to the Hotel Whittier fire, mention is made of the quick response of the Beach firemen, but not a word about the village firemen.
Why is that? Were they not very much in evidence and did they not certainly contribute their efforts towards checking the flames? Or is it considered by the writer that there are no Hampton firemen?
The village company had two lines of hose laid and connected before the beach apparatus showed up; not belittling the work of the Beach company or the time made on the road, but to show that the village boys were at the fire.
'In answer to the above, we would like to say that a paragraph was written in the account which covers the points raised in the communication, and we supposed it appeared until our attention was called to it. The paragraph is as follows: (Ed.)'
"The village company was first to respond, and in a short time, had two lines of hose on the flames, and at one time, shortly after the water was turned on, it seemed as if the fire would be checked and the building saved, but there was too much heat in the interior, and in spite of the best work of these men, the blaze soon gained the upper hand."