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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber Firefighter1219's Avatar
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    Unhappy Sad Day In Gadsden County/Havana, FL

    Saturday, July 3, 2004, fire departments from across Gadsden County were called out to a structure fire at the Nicholson Farmhouse Restaurant located a few miles west of Havana on SR 12.

    At 0221 hours, Concord recieved a page to a possible woods or structure fire at the Nicholson Farmhouse Restaurant. A few mins later at 0224 hours, a second page was recieved to confirm that there was a structure fire on the property. Upon calling en-route, Concord was advised by GCSO dispatch that one of the secondary buildings was fully involved.

    Havana VFD was first on scene with an engine and quickly found that the fire from the McCall House (which was fully involved) was extending into an exposure on side-b. Exposures on sides-a,c were also threatened. Havana began exposure protection on the Nicholson House (located on side-b of McCall) as a second engine from Havana arrived on scene. Havana's second engine also began exposure protection.

    Shortly after Havana's second engine arrived, Quincy FD arrived on scene with Engine 2 and began fire attack on McCall. A few minutes later, Concord VFD arrived with Rescue 1 (which began fire attack), Engine 6 (which supplied Quincy's Engine 2) and Tanker 71 (which supplied Havana's 2 engines).

    Crews from Havana, Quincy and Concord stayed on scene until approximately 0700 hours, when the scene was turned over to an investigator from the State Fire Marshall's Office.

    The McCall House was completely destroyed, while the Nicholson House sustained minor fire damage and bubbled paint. The rest of the exposures also sustained minor damage.

    The Nicholson Farmhouse Restaurant has hosted special event parties, weddings, rehearsals, receptions, banquets, bus tour groups, school field trips, birthday parties, and seminars/workshops for many, many years. It is an historic site and dates back as far as 1828. The restaurant was originally just the Nicholson House, but several historically important buildings have been added over the years. The buildings were moved to the site from all over the county. The restaurant is rated as one of Floridaís TOP 200 by FLORIDA TREND magazine.

    Many people from all over the state and country have frequented the restaurant while visiting the area. Many locals have also grown to love Nicholson's as well. The restaurant and property on which it lies will never be the same again. The McCall House will be sorely missed by all who have visited it.

    Please take a look at Nicholson's website: http://www.nicholsonfarmhouse.com/

    The Picture below is of the Nicholson House. I will post pictures of the actual fire and operations when they become available.
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  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber Firefighter1219's Avatar
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    Default

    Another pic.
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  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    WOW. Its always a sad day when a historic landmark is lost. I am glad though that no one was hurt during the event, which is a very good thing, in view of some recent past events.

    Sounds like you all did a great job in protecting the exposure buildings at least, and that is a job well done there!
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  4. #4
    Forum Member lilsisterosceol's Avatar
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    Default Learning some geography

    Sorry for your loss and really sorry for all of us who have lost cause from checking out the web site for the restuarant, I would love to go there next time I am in the panhandle. Anyone would be lucky to dine there, such a noble and historic structure. Looks like the food is six star as well.

    Let us know how the re-build goes, if in fact there is one. I can't imagine the effort not taking place on something so rare and beautiful.

    I hope you see better times ahead Havana/Gadsden County. You fought the good fight and still got eveyone out safe, that is a win, at least an important win.

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber Firefighter1219's Avatar
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    Default Blaze Claims Historic Building

    Nicholson restaurant loses McCall House

    HAVANA - Fire struck the Nicholson Farmhouse Restaurant early Saturday morning, leveling one of the eight historic buldings surrounding what was originally the main house of a plantation.

    No one was injured, and the reataurant remains open, seating customers in the remaining four structures that have dining rooms. The 1905 McCall House had been able to accomodate nearly 150 diners.

    "We're very thankful it didn't cross over into the kitchen" in the back of the farmhouse, which is next to what remains of the McCall House, said Nicole Carpenter, daughter of owner Gerald Carpenter. She cerdited the work of the Havana, Quincy and Concord fire departments in knocking down the fire quickly.

    The cause of the fire was not yet known. Carpenter said the State Fire Marshall's Office was investigating. Neither those officials nor Havana Fire Chief Don Vickers could be reached.

    The remnants of what appeared to be several dozen bottle-rocket fireworks were lying outside the McCall House on Saturday. Carpenter said investigators were looking at those as a possible cause.

    The 2 a.m. fire burned the house down to the brick foundation. Metal roofing lay twisted on the ground; the house's building timber was still smoldering Saturday afternoon. A charred back wall and front staircase were all that was left standing.

    "You can't replace a 100-year-old building," Carpenter said. "It hurts us, but it could have been worse."

    Gerald Carpenter, who said he was meeting with his insurance agent Saturday, didn't immediately know the worth of the house or whether he would rebuild or move another historic home onto the property. With the McCall House's loss, the restaurant now seats about 500 people.

    The McCall House was built by Frank McCall on Attapulgus Highway and moved to the restaurant site off State Road 12 in the early 1990s, according to the restaurant's archives.

    The 50-acre tract is the remnant of a 4,000 acre plantation in eastern Gadsden County. The main farmhosue was built in 1828 my Scottish immigrant Malcolm Nicholson, the great-great-grandfather of Paul Nicholson, who founded the restaurant in 1988. Most of the other buildings were hauled to the site from other parts of the county.

    Paul Nicholson died in May 1999 in an automobile crash while on a hunting trip in Argentina. Gerald and Theresa Carpenter later bought the restaurant.

    In May 2000, fire also destroyed part of Havana's historic Cannery, including the building that housed the Shade Restaurant. State fire investigators were unable to determine how that blaze began.

    Copyright (C) from the Tallahassee Democrat
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  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber Firefighter1219's Avatar
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    Default

    A picture scanned from the Tallahassee Democrat.
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  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber Firefighter1219's Avatar
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    Default

    Another picture.
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  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber Firefighter1219's Avatar
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    Default

    The remnants of what appeared to be several dozen bottle-rocket fireworks were lying outside the McCall House on Saturday. Carpenter said investigators were looking at those as a possible cause.
    That is one of the first things that I noticed after I started water supply operations. I took a walk around the area where I set up Engine 6 and noticed sticks from bottle rockets everywhere. I also noticed several larger explosive-type fireworks around too.

    When I got a chance to pull the State Fire Marshall investigator away from the owner and over to the side I asked him if he noticed them. He said yes but he didn't think they started the fire because the building had a block foundation and a tin roof.

    lilsisterosceol: Let me know when the next time you are in the panhandle is. I would be glad to treat you to a dinner at Nicholson's. It's been at least 8 years since I have been, and that would give me an excuse to go back.
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  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Default

    Hmmm just thinking about the rockets etc..... May be just coincidence, but then I am not an investigator. Good save to the remaining structures etc though.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber Firefighter1219's Avatar
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    Default Fire destroys part of restaurant

    An early morning fire destroyed one of Nicholson Farmhouse Restaurant's historic houses, dampening the holiday spirits of the owners and causing a reshuffling of seating arrangements.

    The 100-year-old McCall House was a total loss in spite of efforts of three fire departments. All that remained was the brick foundation and smoldering timbers.

    Owners Gerald and Teresa Carpenter were still at the scene Saturday morning around 8:30 a.m. It had been a long night since they were awakened at 2:30 and given the bad news that the building was engulfed in flames.

    Gerald said a neighbor had reported the fire after getting up in the night to get a drink of water. At the time, the neighbor didn't know it was the McCall House, just that a big fire was burning nearby.

    The house, along with the Nicholson House, Littman House and Shady Rest, was used for serving customers. It could seat approximately 150 of the 600-plus total capacity for the entire restaurant complex.

    The McCall House had been moved to the site by original owner Paul Nicholson in 1991. The house had a long history since it had been built by Frank McCall in 1905. In addition to the McCalls, the Barineau and the Owens families lived in the house in the years before it was moved to the restaurant site.

    Gerald said he suspected the fire started from bottle-rockets being fired off in the side yard by employees after their shifts were over. He said the fire marshal had been on the scene early Saturday morning and had found no immediate cause for the fire. "He said the electrical checked out," Gerald said. "I suspect it was the bottle rockets." Electrical problems are always prime suspects when an old structure burns down.

    The Havana, Concord and Quincy fire departments responded to the fire but were unable to save the house. They did manage to keep the fire contained to the McCall House although the eave on the nearby kitchen building had to be extinguished when it caught on fire. Turpentine had also begun to ooze from the other nearby buildings from the intense heat and, according to Gerald, were probably within minutes of catching fire themselves.

    In addition to the normal equipment usually found in the restaurant, the McCall House, like all of the Nicholson Farmhouse buildings, was chocked full of old antiques and heirlooms. Firemen managed to save some but many were lost in the blaze.

    Gerald said the restaurant would open as planned Saturday night and rearrange seating to accomodate displaced customers. "We are definitely open for business." He said a wedding rehearsal dinner was planned next week at the house by family members whose great grandmother had lived in the house. "I don't know what they'll do now."

    Gerald said finding another old historic county home to replace the McCall House was definitely a possibility.

    State Fire Marshal investigator Jason Roberts said the fire was still under investigation.

    Copyright (C) from the Havana Herald
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  11. #11
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    A picture from the Havana Herald. Appears to be after the fire was knocked down quite a bit.
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  12. #12
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    Another picture from the Havana Herald. The aftermath.
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  13. #13
    Forum Member lilsisterosceol's Avatar
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    Question Checking back in for an update

    Any news on this fire? Will there be a rebuild? Has it started yet?
    Pictures?

  14. #14
    Forum Member firemanpat29's Avatar
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    Default

    They are still open with reduced seating capacity.
    I will check and see if they have added any more
    buildings or not. I would think they would bring
    in another old building instead of rebuilding
    to keep with the theme.

  15. #15
    Forum Member lilsisterosceol's Avatar
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    Default Thanks, still planning on a lunch there

    Appreciate the update

  16. #16
    MembersZone Subscriber Firefighter1219's Avatar
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    Will there be a rebuild?
    It would be impossible to rebuild. There is now way to replace an historic building after it is completely lost. It just wouldn't be the same. I'm sure that they will find another historic building from the area and have it moved into the spot where the McCall House used to be. They will have to go hit the antiques shops in Havana to come up with all of the memorobilia that they use to decorate the houses.

    After the fire was out, we did some digging around in the rubble. Some of the more hardy antiques survived, but most of them were destroyed.

    I drove by there on the way home from work today (glimpsed down the driveway) and they seem to be fully operational. It appears that they are doing well. I can't say for sure, but I beleive the cause of the fire went down as undetermined. I will try to contact the owners to get more information.
    Last edited by Firefighter1219; 01-19-2005 at 11:39 AM.
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  17. #17
    Forum Member lilsisterosceol's Avatar
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    Default I understand about the historical value

    It will never be the same again, ever.

    Now history will read, before the fire and after the fire.

    I can't wait till I see it with my own eyes and taste the good cookin with my own stomach. yum, yum

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