In March of 1881, fire struck the town of Comanche once again. It was about 10:30 p.m. when Elliott and Wright’s Dry Goods erupted into flames. Luckily, the fire was spotted immediately and the alarm sounded and townsmen as well as the hook and ladder team were quickly on the scene, which was the west side of the square.
Unfortunately, the fire burned hot and began to spread before it could be contained. A grocery also owned by Elliott and Wright as well as another owned by Hamilton & Hammon were also soon engulfed in the vicious flames. All of the buildings were constructed of pine and burned so quickly that there was nothing to be done to save them.
The next building heading west in line was the Fossett Building, which had been the scene of so many of the town’s happy gatherings and parties. This building was a two-story rock building, and it was also a total loss. (This is the building where the town’s 1874 Christmas Eve party was held on the night the man who would become Dr. Robert Thomas Hill first arrived in Comanche.)
By this time it was obvious that the fire could not be contained without making a space between the buildings. The next in line was the Hill, Moore, and Co. Grocery, which was housed in another wooden building and had to be sacrificed if the monster was to be quelled. The grocery was quickly taken down, and the fire began to burn itself out; unfortunately, most of the goods within the grocery were destroyed.
J.W. Stone owned a saddle shop and was next in the line of buildings on the west side of the square. Although it did catch fire several times, his building was eventually saved.
Of course, once again the stench of burned wood and broken dreams pervaded the atmosphere in Comanche, Texas. Luckily, out of the ashes came new dreams:
“Hardly had the smoke cleared from the ruins of the fire last week before several of our enterprising citizens began planning to build up the burnt district, and it is now rumored that the details are perfected.
“It is a fact well-known that Mr. Martin, of the firm of Martin, Byrne, & Johnston, has purchased the lots owned by Mrs. Fossett of Meridian, and it is said that the firm will erect two elegant, two-story stone fronts upon them to be the finest storehouses in this section.
“One of these buildings is intended for one of our most prominent grocery firms. It is also said that Mr. Barnes , the hardware merchant, will erect a handsome two-story building on the lot where his present store is situated, and it is too well known to need any comment upon our part that when Mr. Barnes undertakes anything that he will have nothing but the best..
“We have also heard that Mr. A.L. Hamilton will build a house in unison with those of Messrs. Martin, Byrne, & Johnston, thus making a continuous block of five two-story stone fronts upon the west side of the square. One of the prominent features of the buildings will be a commodious public hall above two of the stores, which can be used for public meetings, etc”—Comanche Chief, April 2, 1881
The June 11, 1881 issue of the Comanche Chief chronicled the progress of the four buildings:
Martin, Byrne, & Johnston- a two-story stone building, 25’x70’
J.W. (Jeff) Greene & Co.- a two-story stone building, 25’x70’
A.L. Hamilton- a one-story stone building, 25’x70’
William Barnes- a two-story stone building, 25’x 65’