Lake Maxinkuckee Its Intrigue History & Genealogy Culver, Marshall, Indiana

1931 Lake Shore Drive Fire  

Dec 9, 1931

$7,000 Fire Threatens Block

Lakeview Restaurant Entirly Destroyed.

Alarm At 2:00 A.M.

Culver Fire Department Prevents Flames From Destroying Entire Business Block

Fire of an unknown origin razed the Lakeview restaurant and Castle Garden dance hall and partially destroyed the Louden grocery store early Tuesday morning and for a time threatened the entire business block in the north end of town before it was brought under control by the efficient work of the Culver Fire Department.

Due to the age of the buildings either destroyed or damaged it is difficult to estimate the total damage, but it is believed the loss is about $7,000.

The fire was discovered by Herbert Houghton at about 1:50 a.m. and two alarms were sounded.

It was stated that the blaze was at the rear of the Lakeview restaurant, but that before the department arrived the whole roof seemed to break into flames at once.

Soon the restaurant and adjoining dance hall were a mass of fire and all efforts were centered on saving the adjoining structures. Two lines of hose were connected to the hydrants but no headway was made so the truck was run to the edge of the lake and water pumped though another line of hose. The force of this line stopped the flames from completely consuming the Louden Grocery and saved the buildings beyond.

On the other side of the restaurant the Tuck Swigart soft drink parlor was saved by its cement block construction. This made the task easier in preventing the flames leaping over to the express office and adjoining Johnson's apartments.

Sparks from the fire also threatened the nearby Williams apartments, but a small blaze on the shingled roof was quickly extinguished.

The restaurant and dance all were owned by Charles Hayes, who carried no insurance on the structure. It is estimated his loss ins between $3,000 and $4,000. The restaurant had been occupied until about two months ago, when it was closed for the winter, by Herbert Houghton, who had insurance on the contents and fixtures for $1,400. It is believed that this nearly covers his loss.

The building occupied by the Louden Grocery of which T. G. Louden is the proprietor, is owned by George Spangler, who is covered by $700 insurance. Mr. Louden estimates his loss on the contents at between $1,000 and $2,000. He had $900 insurance. The slight damage to the Simpson restaurant building, which is next to Louden’s, is placed at about $50 and is covered by insurance. This building is owned by Ezra Hawkins. The damage to the Williams apartment of about $20 is covered by insurance.

The cause of the fire remains a mystery although it is believed that either sparks from some nearby chimney ignited the wooden building , or else that tramps had forced an entrance into the kitchen and had started a fire in the range.


Those who doubted the need of a new fire truck should certainly be convinced by this time.

Without the efficient pumper the entire block from Johnson apartments to the Palace Theatre would be a mass of smoldering ashes today.

With the work the truck did in fighting the Brewer cottage fire and this conflagration the new equipment has paid for itself. From now on all it does should be considered pure velvet. The fire department can not be praised too highly for its cool and efficient work. There were not many in the large crown who would have bet at one time they could save the entire block from going up in smoke.

350 telephones, including the academy’s lines, were put out of commission when the flames destroyed the telephone cable running past the front of the restaurant. The central girls spent most of the time Tuesday announcing, “the telephone is out of order”. A repair crew was rushed down from South Bend, went to work at 10:00 a.m. and had the cable repaired by 6:00 o’clock Tuesday evening. The burned cable caused a short that threw out of commission telephones on that cable that were between central office and the fire as well as those on the other side of it.

The restaurant and dance hall were bult by Charles Hayes about 20 years ago.

Included in the loss in the Louden Grocery were several baseball suits and other equipment. Mr Louden was manager of the Culver baseball team last summer and had stored the team’s paraphernalia in his store.

Mr Louden is undecided regarding his plans for the future as to the re-opening of his grocery store. A suitable site offers the greatest problem.

The cold weather was a great handicap to the firemen and kept the spectators moving to keep warm. The water from the hose soon formed ice on the street and sidewalk and made footing difficult for the firemen.

Arthur Simpson, proprietor of the Coffee Shop, helped the firemen keep warm by serving hot coffee. Several gallons were consumed by the fire fighters.

All of the goods in the apartments above the Coffee Shop were moved out as it seemed certain the building would be next in the path of the raging fire. The occupants spent Tuesday cleaning up their rooms and moving back in.

Some of the belongings of the people living in the Johnson apartments were moved out to safety when the flames began to char the side of the building. Louis Lohr engineer of the radio station WCMA, which is located on the first floor of this building, had a pair of pliers in his hand ready to start cutting wires and moving out the expensive equipment if fire broke out in the building.

The occupants of the Johnson apartment declared that it was the thrill of a life time to wake up and see flames shooting up just outside your window. But they insist that once in a lifetime is enough.

Arthur Simpson refused to move out of his restaurant equipment. He reasoned that if he moved out and the building didn’t burn he would be out of business for a couple of days while he got straightened up again and would damage some of his property, while if the building burned he would be out of business anyway. As it was he opened for business as usual a few hours later.

Owners of the businesses a few doors away from the fire prepared to move out their property on a few minutes notice. The sight of those leaping flames was enough to prompted anyone to that course of action.

This fire takes it place in local history with the burning of the academy’s stables, Ferrier's lumberyard and the old Lakeview hotel.

A party scene of the fire times the department from the sounding of the whistle and it took only seven minutes until the truck arrived. That is good time at any hour of the day, to say nothing about 2:00 a.m.

Things looked the worst when it seemed that the Louden Grocery and Johnson apartment were sure to go and then the Williams apartment caught on fire.

If the department had been forced to divide its attention three ways the fire would have taken the rest of the block. But the other two threats were quickly controlled and all attention was given to the Louden building.