Fire On the Square in Mansfield: 1944
The skyline of the Square in downtown Mansfield has been a
slowly evolving work-in-progress since the space was laid out over 200 years
ago. One corner of it, however, took a
quantum leap in architectural change after the winter of 1944 when a
catastrophic fire wiped out two North Park Street landmarks.
This photo essay of images—spanning 125 years—documents the different ways that the north-east corner of the Square has appeared to different generations of Mansfielders.
The northeast corner of the square, where North Park Street meets Diamond Street, underwent a dramatic change in architecture in 1944 when the buildings from the 1800s were destroyed by fire. These two views show pretty clearly the before and after.
Built in the 1850s as a hotel called The Phenix, this became known as the Hedges Block by the 1880s where the Post Office was located; and by 1900 was the Ohio Suspender Co. factory.
The Ohio Suspender Co.
A work force of 33 women operated the looms of the Suspender factory, turning out apparel accessories for men and women.
By the late 20s the large building on the corner of the Square had become a department store called Rowlands; and by the 1930s it was the home of Quality Furniture.
The next building west from the corner was known as the Newman Block throughout its history, and the space is still labeled so to this day, though this grand structure, built in 1882, was lost in the fire.
The new version of the Newman Block was built in 1946; today it is occupied by Richland Engineering Limited.
The Fire of 1944
The famous Fire of 1944 broke out on February 18 when frigid temperatures turned all firefighting efforts into a great ice storm.
Witness the famous fire for yourself:
The northeast corner of the Square was restored to the use of shoppers once again during the months of 1946-7 when Sears and Woolworth’s came to Mansfield.