PEEKING INTO THE PAST: The Great Albemarle Fire and the watch

Published 9:04 am Wednesday, June 28, 2023

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According to the Concord Times newspaper, on December 5, 1899, “Albemarle was visited by a destructive fire this morning shortly after midnight.”

Numerous businesses and other buildings along the east side of South Second Street were all burned to the ground. The fire was said to be so intense that the windows of businesses across the street cracked. The paper went on to state that “Had the wind been unfavorable, the entire part of the town … would have been burned.”

According to local historian Jonathan Underwood, “There were no reported deaths, although legend says a small stable behind the Central Hotel burned and the horses inside were killed. As the story goes, their remains were placed in the town’s old well, then covered over.”

The watch in today’s picture is one of the few reminders of this terrible fire. Found the morning after, in the rubble of the Central Hotel, the watch has become an important part of the Stanly County History Center collection.

{Lewis Bramlett – Stanly County Historical Society}