March 22nd, 2014

Garrettsville – So that the Mishlers may gain a respite from questioning, here’s the skinny on the only structure left totally standing after the “Buckeye Block Fire” on March 22.

Photo: Benjamin Coll, Staff Photographer
Photo: Benjamin Coll, Staff Photographer

It was constructed in the 1920’s or ‘30’s as a replacement for an earlier building—wooden, 2-storey, adjacent to the Buckeye Block—which burned ( Fire was fairly common in those days, especially in all-wood construction.  The fire department was organized in 1864—mostly a bucket brigade—for that very reason.).   The builder was bound and determined that conflagration should not be the fate of his property, so it was built with a 4-inch, reinforced concrete floor, concrete block walls faced with brick and steel beam ceilings.  It also had a basement where utilities and heat( no sissy air –conditioning then) were located.  Initially, there were two  portions of the building, a 10ft. width and a 23 ft. width, sometimes leased separately, sometimes together; a restaurant occupied the space at one time.  The locally-prominent Thomas family owned both sides but may have leased  them separately; The name Pardee was associated with the restaurant ; the names Dyer, Vaughn, Hutchison, Hewitt, Davis & McClintock pop up as well.   Around 1931 it was the office for Ohio Public Services—forerunner of Ohio Edison– in town and people could go there to pay their electric bills and/or purchase appliances.  Robert Mishler moved his law practice into the building in 1970 (or thereabouts) and Delma Mishler dealt in and stored antiques in the other side of the building.

At some point during the aftermath of the fire, apparently a television/radio reporter expressed shock and disbelief at the fact that the buildings had no fire-suppression/sprinkler systems.  Well, who did in 1860?   There were no regulations on fire safety or occupancy or flammable materials until much later and they dealt mostly with new construction.  Old places were “grandfathered in”.  There wasn’t a water system either until 1907.  “Be careful out there,” was about the extent of preventative measures.

Rest assured   that whatever goes up in that space will have to comply with all of the much-maligned “regulations”…and all of that will cost money, but it won’t likely go up in flames again.

The Mishler building shows the wisdom of that.