Historical Salina Building Survives Close Call With Fire

Friday, November 30th 2012, 5:41 pm
By: Craig Day

A lot of people are thankful after firefighters saved some of the character in one community's old downtown district.

A building that's been standing since the 1920s was saved, thanks to the quick action of firefighters in Salina on the shore of Lake Hudson in Mayes County.

"If we hadn't gotten here sooner, as good as we did, we would have had fire in the roof and everything," Salina Assistant Fire Chief Jackie Ball said.

Two minutes after getting the call, firefighters were there.

They got the fire under control and saved the structure built in the 1920s.

"We had fire coming out of here and fire up above," Ball said.

There is smoke and water damage, but the structural integrity is OK.

Carolyn Chumwalooky owns a American Indian and cultural store across the street, where she crafts turquoise jewelry.

She's glad the old building was saved.

"If rooms could talk, if buildings could talk, what would they say? What's been in there before?"

Before, it was a doctor's office and drug store.

Joe Brown's uncle Dr. B.L. Morrow built it.

"When he came, they lived in a tent on the property," Brown said.

Brown and many others are glad firefighters saved it because when an old building like this is destroyed, you lose more than bricks and beams.

You lose something special.

"I guess you just have to be a sentimentalist," Brown said. :And the connections to the people that you grew up with, the people that owned the buildings you knew and thought so much of and everything."

Chumwalooky said, "Yeah, it's bad because that's history."

Although vacant now, at different times over the years, it's been a feed store, a retail shop and an art studio.

"It can be restored and be a beautiful building," Ball said.

Restoration will take some work, but at least part of the town's history is still here.