Editor’s note: The following column is a retrospective look at the local area through past issues of the Watauga Democrat compiled by the Watauga County Historical Society.

“Blowing Rock Items,”



, December 11, 1913

Mrs. W. P. Pendley, with her brother and sister, Mr. and Mrs. I. Merritt Curtis, of Hay, Washington, after a month’s round of visits among relatives at Shouns, Tenn., and Granite Falls, NC, returned last week greatly benefitted by the trip, the Curtises to remain through the holidays with relatives here and at Globe on John’s River. Mrs. John Saunders, of Globe, a sister of Mrs. Pendley, and Mrs. Curtis, daughters of the later Luther Moore, Esq., for years a prominent citizen of Caldwell County.

Mrs. Norman Cordon, who, with her mother and sisters, are spending the winter here, has gone to the Charlotte Sanitorium for treatment.

Mrs. Miller and three daughters, after a six month’s sojourn at Watauga Inn, that ever-popular, all-year-round resort, left on Sunday for Winston-Salem, where they will spend the winter with Mrs. Miller’s sister, Mrs. Lindsay Patterson, the Millers’ many friends here sorry to give them up, for they have shown their devotion to the Rock by coming early and remaining late each season for many years.

Mr. W. C. Vannoy, our popular townsman, after an absence of a year in Park City, Montana, gave his many friends a surprise last Saturday, dropping in upon us unexpectedly, Wiley the picture of health and singing the praises of the North West, but glad to get back to old Watauga, where he proposes to spend the winter and “maybe longer.”

Mrs. J. W. Clure, wife of ex-Chief of Police, and daughter of our honored townsman, James I. Teague, has returned from a pleasant visit to her daughter, Mrs. Isaac Powell, of Morganton, her niece, Mrs. Jefferson Hartley, accompanying her.

Mr. James Sudderth, who among other good citizens of our wide awake town, bought land at the big sale during the Summer Conference last August, has begun to build on his property back of the Company’s store, putting up a good ice house for summer use at his popular cold drink stand, Mr. J. Lee Hayes, the well-known contractor and building, with a force of five men in charge of the work, in 6 hours completing the building and off for another job of work. In fact, when Lee Hayes begins a house, he presses through to completion, whether it be cabin or cottage, barn or bungalow, cow pen or palace….

“’King Street’ by Rob Rivers,”

Watauga Democrat

, December 30, 1948

“White Christmas” was more than a tuneful dream to the residents of this area, for King Winter plunked down a full-fledged snow on Friday to fix the terrain for Santa’s immortal reindeer team…. Kiddies hail the fall of the beautiful as an answer to a childish prayer, while the oldsters shiver against the blast, and wish that Christmas might have been warm and sunny…. The crowds of shoppers which thronged the town Friday…. The slosh of the tires in the slush, slinging the muddy snow on the costumes of pedestrians who wandered too close to the line of traffic…. The crusty snow of Saturday afternoon, almost bearing a man’s weight and cracking like pistol shots when a foot went through…. The sound of tortured steel as the chains bite at the concrete…. The cheery “Merry Christmas” heard again and again as shoppers rubbed elbows in the crowded stores…. The silence of the city on a closed Saturday…. The tang in the air on a cloudless morning when the mercury has stooped near the zero mark, and the fragrance of the smoke drifting from a chimney where the flames are devouring the bits of pine kindling....

“Christmas Day Blaze Guts Business Block: $167,000 Loss Felt by 6 Firms,”

Watauga Democrat

, January 1, 1953

The most devastating fire in the history of Boone, virtually destroyed the Qualls block of buildings, put six establishments out of business, and destroyed property which Fire Chief Cottrell estimated to be worth $167,000, in a Christmas afternoon conflagration.

The Boone Fire Department, ably aided by firemen from Blowing Rock, fought the raging flames for more than six hours before the fire was brought under control.

During the progress of the fire traffic was routed around the scene. Electric service was cut off as the blaze raced through the high tension wires, and most of the residents of the community had Christmas dinner by candlelight.

The fire is believed by Fire Chief Howard Cottrell to have either originated from the furnace or to have resulted from a burned out electric motor, but its origin has not been definitely determined.

The building, the property of Messrs. George C. Greene and D. L. Wilcox, was a two-story brick and wood structure and was estimated to be worth about $75,000. $15,000 insurance was in force on the structure.

The Skyline Café, owned by Raleigh Cottrell, and the gathering place for all the civic organizations of the town, went up in the blaze. The loss was about $25,000, and Mr. Cottrell was carrying $10,000 insurance.

The Carolina Hotel, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Fred Church, and the town’s second largest hotel, was gutted. The loss of furnishings and equipment said to have been $20,000, one-half of which was covered by insurance.

The City Meat Market was valued at $12,000 by the fire department head and there was $1,500 insurance.

Damage to the Central Barber Shop was put at $200, with no insurance in force.

Craven Furniture Co. sustained a loss of about $35,000, Mr. Cottrell says, and there is $25,000 insurance.

The total loss was set by insurance adjustors at $167,200, the owners of the building said.

Throughout the afternoon and early evening the Boone and Blowing Rock firemen battled against the flames and hundreds of spectators gathered to witness the conflagration. Five hose lines kept pouring water into the inferno hour after hour, at the same time keeping adjoining buildings wet. Dynamite was used to break through the roof, so that water could reach flames between the ceiling and the roof structure. Fire Chief Cottrell and some of the firemen remained on duty all night to prevent a re-kindling of the flame. Saturday morning the fire broke forth anew in the charred timbers, but was subdued within an hour.

The equipment of McGuire’s Beauty Salon, next door, was moved out as a precaution, but the damage to the structure from smoke was only nominal.

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