Grainger County Courthouse Fire in 1946

Grainger Court House Burns, Old Records Believed Safe

Valuable Papers Are in Vaults; Officials Confer Today on Steps for Rebuilding; Loss $200,000

Rutledge, Jan. 17 — Only the 42-year-old brick walls of the Grainger County court house were standing today.  Fire yesterday destroyed the entire interior, with loss estimated at $200,000.

Officials met this afternoon to consider what to do.  Steps will probably be taken to rebuild.  A special session of County Court will be called, probably next week.

Most Records Safe

Records in vaults were believed safe.  They were those of the county court clerk, register, Circuit Court clerk, clerk and master, and those of the trustee which were in a steel safe.  Other minor papers, in filing cabinets, burned.

W. I. Daniels [sic], county court clerk, today opened temporary offices at the Red Cross rooms.  He saved most of his records and furniture.

Trustee Arnold Roach is using the directors’ room of the Citizens Bank & Trust Co.

“We do not know the cause of the fire,” said Mr. Daniel today.  “It seemed to have started in the back of the building upstairs.  Some seem to think it might have started from a defective flue and others think it may have been wiring.  There had been a fire in an open grate.  The fire was going through the slate roof when it was seen and it was too late to do much.  We used a garden hose to play water on the vaults.

Morristown Sends Aid

“Firemen came from Morristown, but the fire had gained such headway there was not much the could do.”

The fire was discovered by a passing truck driver, who gave the alarm.

Among the records saved were those dating back to the establishment of the county in 1796.

This was the third court house of Grainger.  Court houses were building in 1801, 1848, and 1904.

Cost $200,000 to Replace

The building which burned cost $30,000, but replacement was figured at around $200,000.  It was an attractive two-story brick building, with 10 offices.

Court was not in session at the time of the fire.  Grainger County is a part of the Second Judicial District, of which Judge George R. Shepherd at Newport is judge.

Source:  Knoxville News-Sentinel, 17 Jan 1946, page 24

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