Bayonne, NJ Historic Hotel Fire, May 1916

Bayonne NJ La Tourette House Burned.jpg

HISTORIC OLD HOTEL WRECKED BY FIRE.

THE TOURETTE, AT BAYONNE, N. J., BADLY DAMAGED AND LODGERS LOSE VALUABLES.

CUPOLA CRASHES DOWN.

PARTS OF THE STRUCTURE DATE BACK TO REVOLUTIONARY DAYS -- DAMAGE ESTIMATED AT $10,000.

The ancient Hotel La. Tourette at Bayonne Point, Bayonne, N. J., fronting the waters of the Kill van Kull, opposite Port Richmond, S. I., notable as a resort for New York and New Jersey society folk generations ago, was partly destroyed yesterday by fire. None of the lodgers was injured, but many lost their personal effects, including valuable jewelry.
The hotel is situated in a grove of trees and boxwood. It is built entirely of lumber and extends 300 feet along the shore, resembling the outlines of the Capitol at Washington, having a central building topped with a cupola and a long wing on either side, with a plazza along the entire front.
Most of the guests were at luncheon at 1 o'clock when a neighbor ran across the lawn to the office in the central building and told the proprietor, CHARLES WORMAN, that the cupola was afire. WORMAN had just time to lock the office safe and escape with a few books and papers when flames burst out through all the five floors in that part of the structure. The big cupola collapsed and dropped through the two upper floors before the firemen arrived.
WILLIAM C. WATKINS, who, with his wife, had rooms on the third floor above the office, sought to save some of their effects. He had a narrow escape in returning from the second floor, where the fire cut him off from his rooms. Sparks from the roof and cupola were carried by the wind to a rear extension of the hotel half a block away and that was ablaze when Fire Chief DAVIS arrived. He called out all the apparatus with a third alarm.
Some of the lodgers and employes, fearing the other parts of the big building would be reached by the fire, carried out their effects and the lawns were soon piled high with trunks clothing, and other articles. After three hours of hard work the firemen extinguished the blaze, confining it to the central building, which was damaged to the extent of $10,000. One of the articles in the office that escaped the flames was an engraving of the hotel, made in 1830, which bore this inscription:
"This fashionable watering place is beautifully situated on the Kill van Kull, thirty-five minutes from New York via the steamboat Red Jacket."
Some portions of the ancient building are said to date from the time of the Revolution. An addition to it was built nearly a century ago and the most modern parts were constructed before the civil war. The site, which includes four or five acres, was originally the homestead of Captain DAVID LA TOURETTE, who operated old clipper ships in the East Indies trade. CORNELIUS VANDERBILT, ROBERT BONNER, and their friends were frequent visitors at the hotel in their day.
The fire is supposed to have resulted from a defective electric wire. The restaurant was not damaged, but the guests dined last evening by candle light.

The New York Times New York 1916-05-11