Medina in 1846 from: "Historical Collections" by Henry Howe.

The story goes like this:  On the evening of April 11, 1848, two young men — drifters, probably — were playing cards in the back room of Barney Prentiss’s shoe store.  One of them blew out a candle and tossed it into a pile of trash in the corner. But he was careless — the candle was still burning.  A fire broke out.

Medina was originally built on the New England model : white clapboard structures surrounding a village green called Public Square. Those wooden buildings quickly caught fire and by the next morning, twelve buildings on or near Public Square had been lost — six businesses, four dwellings, and two barns. The loss in dollars was estimated at about $40,000.  This had a significant impact on the little village of 118 souls.

There was, unfortunately, no fire department, and the insurance company –Medina Mutual Fire Insurance– that had insured some of the buildings was practically insolvent, so very little of the insurance was ever paid.

Nevertheless, the citizens rallied and rebuilt. The net result was the construction of  sturdier, more substantial buildings in brick. For example, H.G. Blake, a lawyer and merchant who lost his two-story frame building, built a three- story brick building in its place. He also poetically  named his his shop on the first floor, the Phoenix Store, after the mythological bird that rises from its ashes.

The village residents probably heaved a collective sigh and thought, “This will never happen to us again.”

They were wrong.

And the two card players?  According to the story, they disappeared the next day and were never heard from again.

H.G. Blake's new brick Phoenix Store on the southwest corner of Public Square.

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