1888 hotel fire was worst in Rockdale history

The City of Rockdale organized and became a thriving town along the International & Great Northern Railroad in the late 1870’s.

Two hotels provided travelers with lodging in this newly organized town following the rail line as it built west across Texas, the Wolf Hotel to the east side of Main Street and Mundine Hotel on Main just north of the I&GN Depot.

The Mundine Hotel was about 10 years old when it burned. It was a three-story building, occupied on the first level by the U. S. Post Office and T. B. Kemp & Company, general merchants.

The fire was thought to have started somewhere in or around the staircase in the hotel office W. A. Brooks, proprietor of the hotel lost his wife and four sons in the fire.

Others who perished were J. F. Briscoe, wife and two children, Isaac Crown, and Pemberton Pierce, a salesman.

The building was about 60 x 80 feet in size facing the south.

The building was a perfect mass of windows with a veranda fronting the south of the building. There was a gallery on the west side of the second story, occupied by the Brooks family.

East of them and across the hall were the Briscoe family and Pemberton Pierce and on the third story was the room of Isaac Crown.

When the fire broke out, occupants raised windows for fresh air which is thought to have given the fire a burst of fuel spreading it rapidly throughout the rooms.

Eleven people perished.

The fire that dreadful night reduced the Mundine Hotel to one level.

Rockdale mourned the loss of its residents and the events of that night saddened the town for years. The building was restored and adapted for use as a one level building and housed McVoy Grocery and Feed Store for many years.

It was sold to David Graham. During the years Graham owned the building, it received a Texas Historical Commission Site Marker.

It is presently owned by Tonya Rodgers of Country Estate Auctions.

If the remaining 124 year old building could talk, we might have more details of its history.

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2012-05-10 digital edition

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