On Feb. 19, 1894, fire swept the downtown Arcade Hotel. Flames started in the basement ``Kindling Room,'' where coal and other fuels were stored - and ascended the elevator shaft. Fire Chief Ed Simpson ordered a general alarm to save the hotel.
``So quickly did the smoke cover the entire building that the women attaches of the hotel and in the dining room were compelled to escape from the windows and over the roof,'' The Springfield Weekly Republic reported Feb. 22.
The flames - discovered at 10:15 a.m. - ``spread from the east side to the west side of the hotel throughout all floors, and began eating their way through the hallways on the west side, where the guest chambers are,'' the Republic said.
``The fight became bitter here to prevent the spread of the flames, for if they could pass this point the entire block to High Street would probaly be consumed,'' the newspaper said. By 2 p.m., though, Simpson said the fire was under control.