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Fire tears through historic building in E’town (updated)

January 11, 2011
ERIC VOORHIS, News Staff Writer
ELIZABETHTOWN — Firefighters responded Tuesday morning to a serious structure fire at the historic Hubbard Hall on Court Street in Elizabethtown that left the landmark in ashes. Flames and smoke continued to pour out of Hubbard Hall as fire trucks and news crews filled the street yesterday morning, according to Linda Duso, manager of the adjacent Aubuchon Hardware store. "Right now there's a lot of smoke and flames," Duso said, shortly after 9 a.m. "The road is completely shut down." The Elizabethtown Volunteer Fire Department received the call around 7 a.m., and Westport, Lewis, Wadhams, Whallonsburgh, and Keeseville fire companies were called in for support shortly after. Hubbard Hall, which was originally built around 1840 by Congressman Orlando Kellogg, housed the Elizabethtown Community House Inc. in 1921. Between 1926 and 1967 it operated as the Elizabethtown Community Hospital. It was also used as a branch campus for the North Country Community College and as Essex County offices. "This is certainly one of the more important structures we have here in Elizabethtown," said town Supervisor Noel Merrihew, Tuesday morning. "Everybody is doing everything they can in a bad situation. It will be a real concern what will transpire here in the next couple of months." Hubbard Hall is only two buildings down from Merrihew's office in the town hall on Court Street. He thanked the fire crews for their hard work and diligence. “We have a great crew out there, and a lot of help from surrounding towns,” he said. Jack Hanby, first assistant chief for the Elizabethtown Volunteer Fire Department was the officer in charge. He said the battle against the flames went as well as it could have, and confirmed that the building was a total loss. “We made the decision that it was too dangerous for entry so that complicated things,” Hanby said, Tuesday afternoon at 5 p.m., moments after the crew returned to the station. “We’re lucky that no one was hurt. Not even a scratch on anyone.” Hanby said an investigation unit from Essex County and units from the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control have been called in to determine the cause of the fire, which is still unclear. In 1994, Hubbard Hall was condemned due to deterioration, according to the Adirondack Architectural Heritage. After being placed on AARCH's "Endangered Properties List," and with the urging of a newly created organization, Rediscover Elizabethtown, Essex County eventually gave the property to the town of Elizabethtown. The town, in turn, found a buyer who completely restored the old building. Before the devastating fire, it was being used as office and retail space. "It's a shame that something like this would happen after all that work," Merrihew said. "There's no telling how it will turn out, but this is a sad, sad thing to see happen."

Article Photos

Smoke billows out from the historic Hubbard Hall in Elizabethtown during a fire Tuesday morning.

Photos courtesy of the Duso family



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