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THE LOUVRE FIRE-----------from The Fires of Mariposa- by Tom Phillips

(this is the building and located at 7th and Highway 140)

August 1, 1896

The Louvre Hotel Narrowly Escapes Destruction.
On Friday night of last week at about a quarter past ten o'clock, the alarm of fire was spread and people rushed out to see smoke issuing from the New Louvre Hotel. In a much shorter time than it takes to write an account of it, the majority of the male population of our village were on the scene and using every effort to put out the fire, and after a hard struggle the flames were put out.
     Fortunate indeed was it for our community that the flames were discovered in time, which happened by the merest chance. A traveling troupe was giving an entertainment at Good Templar's hall and a number of town's folks were in attendance leaving the town somewhat deserted. Shortly before ten o'clock Mr. DUNNING and Mr. BERDROW, who roomed at the hotel went there to retire for the night.  After retiring Mr. BERDROW, whose window was open, smelled something burning and arose and looked around his room and in the hall to see if he could detect what it was and as he had been smoking before he went to bed, he feared that by some accident a spark from his cigar might have fallen somewhere and kindled a fire, but not detecting anything he returned to his room and to bed. Presently more smoke entered his room and knowing he was not mistaken he again arose determined to make a more through search and find out from whence the smoke came. Upon going downstairs he saw volumes of smoke coming from the kitchen. He rushed back and called Mr. DUNNING who had retired and was lying in bed reading, and together they rushed down stairs to try and put out the fire, taking with them the pitchers of water that were in their rooms.  They could see the blaze coming from the kitchen and threw the water on it but without effect. They could not get into the kitchen for the door was locked. Seeing they could do nothing by themselves, Mr. DUNNING rushed to the door and gave the alarm of fire.   Sheriff PROUTY was at that moment opposite the hotel on his way home and about the same moment had detected the smell of burning wood and had just turned down the road on the west side of the hotel to investigate when the alarm was given by DUNNING. Sheriff PROUTY immediately commenced firing his pistol, six shots in rapid succession and the whole town gathered to the scene.

     The Good Templars Hall where the show was in progress is only a short distance from the Hotel and at the first alarm the audience piled out in confusion and hurried to the fire. In fact the whole town was there in a short time. Sheriff PROUTY procured a ax and proceeded to break in the door to the kitchen. The smoke by this time had filled the house and it was almost impossible to breathe and as the house was in darkness it made it extremely difficult to work. Help being at hand lanterns were procured, the doors broken in and willing hands were carrying water in buckets from the stable and throwing it on the flames but with little effect till boards were broken off, for it was found that the flames where inside of the partition or between the lining of the dining room and kitchen. Owing to the effective assistance of the town folks the fire was put out in a short time before it had gained much headway.

     The result of the investigation as to the cause and origin of the fire, was even more startling than the fire itself. During the progress of the fire no thought was given to its origin, but when all was over and a search of the kitchen was made it was found that the fire was not the result of accident but was the result of a well laid scheme to burn the hotel, this was apparent at a glance to all who viewed the seat of the flames. The fire was confined in the space between the lining of the dinning room and the lining of the kitchen and it is owing to the fact that these rooms are lined with redwood lumber with no opening above to cause a draft that the fire gained but little headway before it was extinguished. This was why no headway could be made against the flames by fighting from the dining room, although the blaze could be seen through the cracks, the seat of the fire could not be reached till the  board lining was broken with axes. That the fire was set by parties planning the destruction of the building there can be no doubt, for when the lining was torn away 6 or 8 feet above the floor quantities of kindling wood and other combustibles were taken out, showing conclusively that the burning of the building was well planned but owing to the lack of any draft the fire had not got under much headway before it was discovered.  Bitter indeed was the feeling aroused by the disclosures made by the investigation and we regret to say we do not know who the guilty parties are but if any proof could be had as to who the unprincipled fiend is, there would be no lack of assistance in freeing the courts from any responsibility.
     Mr. and Mrs. ARTRU who were conducting the hotel did not return from the French Garden till long after the fire was over. The hotel is the property of Honore ARTRU, the business was conducted by Henri ARTRU and wife of San Francisco who owned the furniture of the hotel. The furniture was insured in San Francisco and the building was insured by F. A. BONDSHU of Coulterville who represents the Lyons Company. Our local insurance agents had all refused to insure the property considering to big of a risk. The day after the fire Honore ARTRU who owns the building received notice from the insurance company that the policy on the building was canceled, the cancellation to take effect at noon on Saturday, July 25th.  The next day after the fire all the boarders of the Louvre settled their bills and sought other quarters and during the week Henri ARTRU and wife packed up their belongings and are seeking other and more congenial climes.

( note-------Mr Henri ARTRU and his wife returned to San Francisco where he became a chef at the Poodle Dog Restaurant.  Honore and Melinda ARTRU transferred  ownership of this building  to  their  daughter  Louise,  upon her marriage to Ernest L CAMIN, son of Cathey's Valley pioneers  Antoine and Refugio CAMIN- carolyn artru feroben)

carolyn feroben