The Month of February has brought fire and destruction to Mansfield a number of times. A few weeks ago, we looked at the fire that ripped through the Baxter Stove Co. in 1899. 75 years ago, another fire destroyed a Mansfield Landmark and other neighboring businesses. On February 13, 1944 a fire, which started in the Ringside Nite Club at 28 and 30 East Third St., devastated half a city block on North Park St. causing $500,000 in damages.
The fire was estimated to have started between 4:00 and 6:00 am and, at 6:40, two young boys noticed the flames and informed a passing police officer. A short time later, the fire department was at the scene. The Newman Building was hardest hit; the 3 ½ story building housed the Ringside Nite Club, two restaurants, two cigar stores, and a number of attorneys’ offices. The fire then spread to the neighboring building which housed the Quality Furniture Store.
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The neighboring towns of Ashland and Shelby sent firefighters to help fight the blaze, arriving shortly before 9:00 am, and Fire Chief Frank R. Stahl returned early from Columbus where he was attending a meeting of the executive board of the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ association. No one was reported injured in the fire.
The cornerstone for the Newman Building was laid in 1882 and named after Mary Newman Cummins, who was the granddaughter of pioneer Jacob Newman. On October 13, 1864, Mary married Capt. Abraham Cahill Cummins. Capt. Cummins and Mary resided in the Newman Home, which was located at the site of the Newman Building, until her death in 1877. In her will, Mary stated that the home would be razed and in its place a building would be erected in her memory. Capt. Cummins built a new home on the northeast corner of Park Ave West and Bowman Street. In 1913 Capt. Cummins erected another building in the back of the Newman Building facing East Third. At the time of the fire, the buildings were still owned by the family, belonging to Mrs. Leo D. Wright, granddaughter of Mary Newman Cummins, and her two sons Lieut. Thomas B. Wright, who would become Mayor of Mansfield, and Pvt. Richard Wright.
After the fire, the buildings were razed and in 1947 the new Sears-Roebuck Store was opened at the site of Quality Furniture. Sears stayed there until 1969 when they moved to the Richland Mall. Since then the building has housed the Richland Community Service Center where various community organizations are located.