April 27,1916: Elks Auditorium and Neil Hotel Fire


Early in the morning on this day in 1916, the Neil Hotel, located near the corner of Fifth and Liberty Streets, caught fire.  The hotel and nearby businesses were quickly engulfed, including the Elks Auditorium and Hutchins Drug Store.

One man, a resident of the hotel, died in the fire that caused about $90,000 damage.   Other residents lost property and cash in the fire.

The Elks Club was housed on the top floor of the building.  Members were able to remove the most important lodge records, but lost equipment in the fire.  Other businesses that were damaged were the Polites candy kitchen, Costas Palace Cafe, and Liberty Billiards Parlor.  The vaudeville troupe that was playing at the Auditorium lost their trappings, as well as their booking.

The fire was a heavy blow to the city, taking away the best movie and vaudeville house.  The Elks Auditorium was replaced by the Auditorium Theatre, and later the State Theatre.  The corner is occupied today by a parking deck.

Photo courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection.

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