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Rumors Lounge Fire

Hartford Michigan 


Story (below photos) and original photos taken by Emma Thornburg Sefcik, Webmaster
Click on a thumbnail to view large size picture.  Use the
<   OR   > on either side to move between screens.

 9-13-2005  - Fire strikes another historic building in Hartford.  Rumors Lounge - Food & Spirits, located on the corner of Main St. and Maple St. -  kitty-corner from Ely Park, was severely damaged by fire.  It is unknown whether the oldest building in Hartford can be restored.  Through the years, this building occupied the businesses of CJ's Bar and Grill, Cronin's Bar, Atlas Pool Room and Stag Club.  The fire is reported to have started in an upper-level apartment toward the back of the building.  There were no casualties and everyone was able to escape the building without injury. 

Click here to read a short history about the early days of this historic building, provided by Bick Beckwith in 2002. His grandfather and uncle owned the Atlas Pool Room and Stag Club in the early 1920s.  Bick provided some beautiful photos of the inside and outside of the building. 

At this point, the origin of the fire remains under investigation.  This story will be updated with new photos and facts as the investigation continues.

This is the 3rd major fire to have destroyed or severely damaged historic buildings within the past 1 1/2 years in Hartford.  On April 9, 2004, the 100+ year old Hartford House Hotel burned, demolished shortly thereafter, and an empty lot remains.  Within a few days, another fire occurred at Mann Metal, which was originally known as the Thomas Farm in earlier years.  Lightening was determined as the origin of the Mann Metal fire.  Severely damaged portions of the building have been replaced. 

 9-14-05 UPDATE
Talked with City Manager, Yemi Akinwale.  He stated that there may be hope for restoration of the building - it isn't as bad as it looks.


by Andrew Lersten
H-P South Haven Bureau


Fire damages apartments, bar on Main Street

HARTFORD - Fire swept through several second-story apartments and damaged Rumors bar on the ground floor at 42 W. Main St. in downtown Hartford on Tuesday afternoon, and the state fire marshal will investigate its cause.

"We had flames rolling out of four windows when we arrived,"  said Hartford Fire Chief Ed Riley. "It was cooking."

Firefighters from seven departments helped battle the blaze, which was on the south side of the building on the second story.

  The fire was reported shortly before 2 p.m., and it did significant damage to three of the seven or eight apartments, Riley said. Rumors bar sustained water damage as a result of the fire suppression activity, he said.

The building is owned by Georgia Hodges, and five of the second-story apartments had people living in them, Riley said. The fire displaced an estimated dozen people, including three tenants who were home at the time of the fire and had to be evacuated, he said.

Joe's Bar, to the east at 38 W. Main St., also sustained some water damage from the firefighting activity, but was reported to be back in business by Tuesday night, Riley said.

Police secured the scene and will keep it secure until state police fire investigator Clara Hoffman of the Niles post finishes examining the site today, Riley said. He declined to speculate on it possible cause.

There were no injuries to firefighters or citizens reported. Firefighters from Bangor, Watervliet, Coloma, Sister Lakes, Paw Paw, and Lawrence assisted.

 9-17-05 UPDATE

by Andrew Lersten
H-P South Haven Bureau


Arson not suspected in fire

HARTFORD - The fire that damaged three downtown apartments and the bar below them this week does not appear to be of suspicious origin, state fire investigator Claire Hoffman said Friday.

But she added that the investigation is not yet complete, so she cannot completely rule out arson.

The fire broke out in the ceiling above an unoccupied second-floor apartment on the southwest corner of the building, so a more likely cause is of an electrical nature, Hoffman said.

Hartford firefighters responded to the fire call at 42 W Main St. around 2 p.m. Tuesday, and several area fire departments helped at the scene. Hartford Fire Chief Ed Riley earlier had said that the fire significantly damaged three of the seven or eight apartments on the second floor, and Rumors bar below sustained water damage.

The building is owned by Georgia Hodges, and five of the second-story apartments had people living in them, Riley said. The fire displaced an estimated dozen people, including three tenants who were home at the time of the fire and had to be evacuated, he said.

Joe's Bar, to the east at 38 W Main St., also sustained. some water damage but was back in business later the same day.

Rumors was closed for renovations and reopened a few months later.  The business never seemed to recover after the fire and was closed in 2006. 

The following comments came in from folks who remember this building.  Will add additional memories and comments as they come them to the webmaster.

Frank Ansteths tavern was a couple doors to the east of the corner.  Used to be called The Chocolate Shop because Frank also sold chocolates.  When my dad had his welding shop on North Center St. he'd stop in there after work once in awhile for a beer!
  Pat Bachman Empson

I don't know a lot about the Main St fire. It included the building that Howard Curry had a grocery in. Later years, Frank Anseth (spelling) had a tavern.  After Frank-Joe Bunn had a tavern in it.  Main damage I think is water damage. The main fire was located in the corner tavern next door. They had a apartment upstairs. this is where the fire was. I have not been uptown yet but I think it gutted the apartment and did lots of water/fire damage to the downstairs.  Right now, the building is roped off by the Police.  I think the State Fire Marshal will be here.  Like the Hartford Hotel fire, they may tear down the building. Time will tell.  More will follow as I find out. This building was built in 1890. I have pictures of it in the 1890's.  Bud Colman


Photos and website story by Emma Thornburg Sefcik - 9/13/2005.
Other articles by perspective owners as indicated.

Information for this web site was gathered from personal interviews, newspaper articles, scrapbooks, personal photo albums, and other documented materials - many available to the public at the Hartford Public Library or Van Buren County Historical Museum.  Please report any typographical errors, updated information, or incorrectly stated information to the webmaster for correction.  Reprinting for personal and instructional purposes is permitted, however, unauthorized commercial reprinting of this information or unauthorized linking to photos-pictures on this site is strictly prohibited without written permission from the webmaster. 

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A Pictorial History of Hartford, Michigan
Emma Thornburg Sefcik,
Competent Secretarial Service
Copyright 2000 - All rights reserved.

Revised: March 20, 2014