At around 1:00, in the early morning of May 24th, 1912, flames erupted in the south side of the building which housed both the Jones-Adams-Johnston Co. and the W.A. Daniel Drug Store. It is unknown how and where the fire started. The building, which belonged to the estate of the Matthews Family was estimated at a total loss of approximately $40,000. In a much later report documenting the history of O.W. Jones & Son Hardware, Hometown Journal, April 30, 1984, it is said that “in the first few years of business, Mr. O.W. Jones Sr. saw a fire in town. He came to see what it was and realized it was his own store. The only thing left standing was the safe.”
The firm of Jones-Adams-Johnston Co. took no time to rebuild. One month after the devastation, they purchased the lot from the Matthews estate and quickly set out to reconstruct the store. It was finished quickly, during fall of the same year.
The other business occupying the space, W.A. Daniel Drug Co. moved a few stores down in the former Forrests Drug Store / aka today’s Little Ones. The massive building next to what was once called “Matthews Corner” was another longtime business to downtown, Weaver Merchandise (later Maxwell’s Dime Store, much later Reem’s Jewelers). They were fortunate to escape the fire of 1912, only to experience another in their building which resulted in a total loss, November 30, 1914.
Pictured is Mr. Albert Matthews (1st GM for Martha Mills and namesake for Matthews Field) as a young man, in front of his dad R.A. Matthews’s store. This is what the storefront of what later became O.W. Jones looked like, prior to its destruction in 1912.
Notice the gazebo behind him which housed one of the several public wells on the square!