|Hotel Holland destroyed
Hotel Holland was unoccupied; cause under investigation
June 07, 2006
ROUSES POINT — Police kept heavy truck traffic
away from the smoking ruins of the four-story Hotel
Holland here on Tuesday morning.
"Right now, the building is unstable,"
Rouses Point Police Chief Robert Craig said over the
rumble of idling fire trucks as he surveyed the activity
around the old hotel at the corner of Lake and Montgomery
Continuous truck traffic wouldn't necessarily bring
the building down, the chief said, but it might dislodge
bricks or other debris.
"We're trying to keep it as safe as we can."
EARLY A.M. FIRE
Fire was spotted at the Rouses Point landmark, which
had been unoccupied for some time, at about 2 a.m.
Flames showed at just one location upon the arrival
of Rouses Point Fire Department shortly afterward,
said First Assistant Chief Walter Laramie.
"How involved was it inside?" he said.
"It was hard to tell."
Nine fire departments joined Rouses Point in the
battle, fighting the fire strictly from the outside,
said Laramie, with three ladder trucks and the deck
guns on both the village's pumper trucks.
"We had a number of ground, large-volume fire
streams and probably a dozen hand lines. We started
to use foam, but it got beyond our capacity."
At about 9:30 a.m., smoke seeped from rubble that
seemed to fill much of the second floor of the structure.
Tin roofing sheets hung over the sides, and, still
visible on the building, was a painted advertisement
promising "clean comfortable rooms" and
A fire investigator with a camera hanging around his
neck ascended the village truck's ladder to take photographs.
"To the best of our knowledge, no one was staying
there," Laramie said, shaking his head over the
massive mess. "If there were, they would be vagrants."
It would have been too dangerous to allow firefighters
inside the structure, he said.
"With the amount of fire and smoke showing,
visibility was a real issue," he said.
So, Laramie said, was the building's one staircase.
"If you went upstairs and got trapped, you would
have had to look for a window. That would have been
a real trick."
Neighboring structures were also at risk.
"There were sparks flying ... probably as far
as the barber shop," he said, indicating that
building a few hundred feet to the north.
Paul and Sue Duffy, who live at 79 Lake St., two doors
down from the Holland, evacuated with their children,
Nicholas, 6, and Karen, 8, after someone pounded on
their door at about 2 a.m.
"We got the kids out real quick," said
The Fire Department hadn't arrived yet, he said,
and flames were shooting out of the old hotel's roof.
He and his wife returned to gather up their numerous
photo albums and music CDs, along with a few important
teddy bears, just as a precaution.
"It was going pretty good," he said of
Other residents were asked to evacuate, too, and,
Tuesday morning, those whose homes are immediately
adjacent to the building were told they shouldn't
expect to sleep at home that night.
The Holland is owned by Gary Clarke, who for a time
operated WBBI-Pax 27 television there. Laramie was
told that, most recently, it served as a relay station,
housing equipment for that purpose.
He said no cause for the blaze had been pinpointed,
and fire investigators were in the midst of studying
what evidence could be found.
Bystanders observed the fire, and many recalled the
hotel's long history.
"My father had a taxi cab stand there,"
said Chudleigh Fosher of Coopersville, thinking back
to the 1930s. "It was a very, very, very kept-up
"It was one of the nicest buildings in Rouses
Adrian Fitts remembered the dramatic arrest, in 1951,
of a jewel thief at the Holland; the woman had hidden
$200,000 worth of uncut diamonds in a toilet bowl.
"A plumber found them," laughed Fosher.
"Then there was a big argument — who owned
Arsene Letourneau studied the wrecked structure with
sadness, recalling his own family's long ownership
of the place, from May 1943, when his grandparents
Bertha and Arsene Letourneau bought the place until
its sale in 1993.
His grandfather died in September 1943, the younger
Arsene said, telling how his father, the late Richard
Letourneau, was just 9 years old at the time but became
his mother's right hand running the 33-room hotel.
"My grandmother lived there," said Arsene,
who is village treasurer and over the years assisted
with about every chore, from bartending to waiting
The Holland catered to railroad workers, keeping
a running tab for the regulars, Arsene said.
"I don't know how many people told me they had
wedding receptions there."
Fire had destroyed the first Hotel Holland on the
site sometime after the turn of the century. Rebuilt
larger and with the signature tower as fourth floor,
it looked much as it did before Tuesday's fire.
Another blaze swept through the attics later on,
but repairs were made.
Claire Fosher, Chudleigh's wife, felt badly that
fire caused the final demise of the building.
"It was really a landmark," she said.
Tuesday afternoon, the old hotel's demolition began