Smoke, water damage to Visitor’s Center collection assessed

by Geoff Fox

Hancock Historical Society President Dan Murphy was inside the Hancock Visitor’s Center after last week’s electrical fire surveying the damage and what was lost.

The fire started shortly after 10 a.m. on Friday, July 19, at the Hancock Visitor’s Center at 42 West Main Street when a volunteer noticed what he described as “molten plastic” dripping on to the carpet from an overhead light.

The fire burned an eight-foot area in circumference and caused $20,000 in damage to the building and contents, the Fire Marshal’s Office said.

Murphy said Monday he had taken down some of the pictures off the wall and was pressing them hoping they would dry and not wrinkle. Some of the older newspapers might look a little older with the water and smoke damage, he said.

On Saturday, July 20, Murphy and Sinclair Hamilton were moving the animal displays from the Sideling Hill exhibit to another location to avoid any mold damage.

The rocks and minerals displays “weathered the storm,” Murphy said, but the description plates probably need to be replaced.

An antique table and rocker were scorched in the fire, he said, as they were at the center of the fire where molten plastic fell from a light fixture.

Murphy said he was optimistic nothing of value was lost in the fire. He did say some files with typed writings and a few books were lost but can be replaced. Souvenirs and t-shirts were also lost.

Right now, Murphy said, the historical society is just waiting for the insurance company to come in and let them know when they can finally remove everything from the Visitor’s Center.