Route 66 News

Fire destroys downtown building in Carthage

A massive fire gutted the popular Sassy Spoon restaurant in downtown Carthage, Mo., on Saturday and extensively damaged a business next door.

Firefighters were called to the scene earlier in the day and seemed to have the blaze under control. However, the fire flared up again. The upper floor, which contained apartments, collapsed, as did the building’s front.

Rod Harsh, who helps run the Boots Motel in Carthage, said a firefighter was injured when one of the walls crumpled. He said firefighters have ruled out arson as a cause for the blaze.

The Sassy Spoon is right on one of the corners of Carthage’s historic square, anchored by the distinctive Jasper County Courthouse in its center. The square and the courthouse aren’t on Route 66, but are frequently visited by Route 66 travelers anyway.

Unless someone takes the trouble to rebuild somewhat of a replica of that building, Carthage’s square will probably suffer a big gap. And that’s a horrible shame.

UPDATE: Harsh emailed this history of the building:

 It was one of the first structures constructed on the Carthage Square in 1861 and rebuilt in 1869 after a fire during the Civil War. It was originally a mercantile store that “sold everything from hoop skirts to harnesses.”  In 1879 it became the McCrillis Brothers Hardware, which had three full floors of merchandise and was known as the largest hardware store in southwest Missouri.  It later became Bee’s Variety Store (owned by the Vandergriffs), then a sporting goods store.  It’s current owner, Ron Stiles, owned the Sassy Spoon Bistro and rented commercial and residential space on the upper two floors.

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