Caspar Lumber Company Store Fire

Caspar Lumber Company General Store, c. 1900. Left to right: Archie Bailey, C.J. Wood, Walter Higgins. The other men are unidentified. The sign “German American Ins. Co.” was for the German American Insurance Company, founded in 1872.  In 1918, when World War I created a wave of anti-German feeling in the United States, the company changed its name to the Great American Insurance Company. (Gift of Verda Wakerley Winney)

March 29, 1947 – A fire destroyed the interior of the Caspar Lumber Company Store. The night watchman had made his usual hourly rounds, but just a half-hour later at 3am, the yard watchman, Melvin Main, saw flames break through the roof of the brick structure. The Beacon reported, “The alarm was turned in immediately, but the fire had gained such headway that very little could be done. One of Fort Bragg’s fire trucks was sent to help, as was the forestry fire wagon. Tons of water was thrown into the building and the fire finally put out.”

Built in the 1870s, the store was one of the very few brick buildings on the Mendocino Coast. The front, back, and side walls survived the fire, and Superintendent James Lilley told the Beacon that as soon as the bricks cooled off, the work of rebuilding would be started.

The Caspar Lumber Company office, the Post Office, and the telephone exchange were also housed in the building. All offices were moved to the Caspar Athletic Club, and the store opened for business in the club rooms.

The Caspar Store re-opened on its original site on September 7, 1948. The building still stands today but is missing the second story.

Walking Tours of Historic Mendocino – Join our expert docents for a stroll and lively commentary. You’ll pass by early pioneer homes, historic meeting places, and buildings that make up the the Mendocino Historic District.