Cloutman Shoe Factory Burns Farmington News, Page2, 1918-02-22


Cloutman Shoe Factory Burns Farmington News, Page2, 1918-02-22


A farmington news article covering the fire at the Cloutman Shoe Factory in Farmington NH. Page2, 1918-02-22

The article reads:

Cloutman Shoe Factory Burns
Two Hundred and Twenty-Eight People
Temporarily Out of Employment
The Biggest Industrial Fire Farmlngton Has Ever Experienced

The most damaging conflagration that
ever visited Farmlngton, reduced to
ruins the J. F. Cloutman Shoe Co's big
factory wbich occupied tbe site at the
junction of Maln, Garfield and Elm streets,
last Thursday nlgbt. In less than two
hours over a $300,000 loss had been incurred
to Messrs. Brown & Daley, owners
ot the plant, and although tbe property
was insured a big unprotected loss was
sustained, the figures of which have not
been set. Two hundred and twentyseven
hands were temporarily thrown
out of employment by tbe raging element,
but before the last timbers of the
factory fell word went abroad that the
structure and Industry would be replaced
with all possible speed. Before
ten o'clock tbe following morning, plans
were being formulated to start the business
in temporary quarters while the
new shop was being built and equipped
for occupancy. A new office of tbe
concern was organized in the rooms of
the farmington National and Savings
Banks and by noon of the following day
those out of employment were reassured
by the dispatch with which tbe emergency
was being handled. The fire
which destroyed tbe plant doomed the
property even before it was discovered
Members of the firm and office force
were at work io the office, a one story
structure, adjoining tbe sole leather and
packing departments, on tbe Main street
side, and were unaware of tbe presence
of the fire until about 9: 35 when some
ladles who occupy rooms in the Frank
McDuffee house, directly across the way,
noticed a lurid illumination through tbe
windows ot the factory and hastened to
apprise those in tbe office of the danger.
Michael Mack attempted to gain
entrance to tbe factory through a door
that connected with tbe sole leather
room and was driven back by tbe intense
smoke and blaze and it was at once seen
that it would be impossible to get inside
to operate the hose from tbe standpipe.
Therefore, a general alarm immediately
was sounded from box 45, corner Main
and Garfield streets. Moving pictures
and other places of amasement were
quickly emptied of their patrons and a
crowd of spectators were on hand before
tbe firemen reached the scene. However,
they arrived promptly and under the
direction of tbe fire chief, Gyros York,
streams ot water soon were turned on
the fire which then was ravaging the
main structure sections of the two lower
stories. Soon, eight lines of hose were
playing on the blazs but seemed to have
little effect as it was impossible for the
firemen to get inside owing to tbe intense
heat and smoke and danger from
falling machinery which by that time
was crashing through the burning floors.
Scorching flames burst from the windows
ana roof and in spite of the warm
and windless night, moving currents of
air sucked in through the seething structure
and sent tbe flames and sparks
mounting several hundred feet in the air
until the heat and falling cinders became
a menace to buildings within a wide area
and a constant watch was kept by citizens
and the boy scouts, while details of
firemen turned their attention to nearby
houses that were in imminent danger.

Lines of hose played constantly on the
house owned by K. T. Willson and occupied
by Dr. Huntress, the garage at the
rear occupied by J E. Ricker, the J . F.
Cloutman house on Garfield street and
tbe McDuffee and W • Uley residences
on Main street. The McDuffee place being
nearest and in tbe greatest danger
suffered tbe worst, the paint being blistered
and some water damage sustained.
Here tbe boy scouts proved their value
as a heroic organization by removing the
furniture from the house and the live
stock from the stable.

The illumination from tbe great blaze
lighted tbe sky for miles around and was
watched from points of vantage in surrounding
towns and cities from whence
came insistent calls for reports of news.
Tbe telephone line connecting this village
with Milton was early put out of
commission by tbe cable being burned
and wire broken, and much more damage
would have been done to the local
system bad it not been for the efficient
work ot the boy scouts, who, working in
well organized patrols, really commanded
the situation as regards the telephone
system. During tbe most exciting moments
ot tbe fire bugle blasts could be
heard calling tbe scouts to points where
their services were most needed,and too
much credit cannot be acoorded the boys
for what they accomplished and the cool
manner in which they did it. Not until
after midnight did tbe crowd begin to
diminish. It was an all ntght vigil for
the firemen who watcbed tbe flaming
mass of burning timbers and debris until
daylight. One feature of importance
and help in fighting the fire was tbe fact
that tbe reservoir was full and good water
pressure was available.

The original structure of tbe plant destroyed
was built in 1873 by John
M. Berry and Daniel W. Kimball, both
prominent shoe manufacturers of the
town at that time. The old shop was a
four story building 72x30 feet and faced
on Garfield street. Here for a period of
years tbe owners did business under tbe
firm name of Berry & Kimball. Later,
Mr. Berry took over by purchase his
partner's interest and manufactured
shoes until 1800 when John F. Cloutman
Sr., bought tbe shop. During Mr. Clout
man's ownership a small addition was
built on Main street. At the death of
Mr. Cloutman, in December, 1905, his
only son, Jobn F. Clontman, Jr., succeeded
to the business which he carried
on with remarkable success until In May,
1917, he sold out to Joseph E. Daley and
Elmer J . Brown who incorporated tbe
business under tbe name of the J. F.
Clontman Shoe Co. During tbe younger
Mr. Cloutman's ownership three addi
tions were pnt on, two on Main street
extending the plant to Elm, and one on
Garfield street. During the present ad
ministration an addition was built on
Garfield,making tbe entire plant contain
50,000 square feet of floor space, with a
manufacturing capacity ot 250 dozen
shoes a day. The pay roll of the concern
when doing this amonnt of business
was $4,000 weekly,so that the temporary
loss of the industry to the town can be
estimated at a large sum.

This is a digital file and does not exist in the physical museum collection.

FHS- Kyle Leach


Farmington News


Farmington News



Date Created




Farmington News, “Cloutman Shoe Factory Burns Farmington News, Page2, 1918-02-22,” Farmington Historical Society-Museum of Farmington History, accessed June 21, 2024,