April 26, 2013

Fire aftermath yields treasure


---- — ROUSES POINT — The fire at the former Saxony hotel here spared two drum sets, a couple of guitars and maybe even the baby grand piano and B3 Hammond organ in the fourth-floor music studio. 

“Right now, the roof is over that part, so it’s protected,” property owner Marc Chapman said Thursday.

Early Monday, fire that likely started at the top of the elevator shaft raged through the attic and upper floor, and it was thought that whole area had been gutted.

But Chapman was able to access that area Wednesday and was delighted to discover those instruments intact.

“I lost all the (recording) tapes and everything else,” he said, including recording equipment. “Everything burnt down around that stuff.

“All the equipment in the control room got fried.”

And he, his wife, Suzanne, and stepdaughter, Erin, lost just about everything in the three-bedroom apartment also on that top floor.

“We found our passports,” he noted, “and some clothes.”


Luckily, Chapman had just recently installed a skylight in the fourth-floor hallway, as it revealed the flames when Erin stepped into the hallway after hearing the sirens of approaching fire trucks.

They hurried down the stairs near the elevator shaft because that escape route was closest.

“We could see pretty well because the flames were so bright,” he said.

The family is living in a mobile home provided by Joe Turner, a son of the late Leona Turner. Coincidentally, the Hammond organ belonged to her.

“The B3 is the most important,” Chapman said. “They don’t make them anymore — it’s historical.”

He’ll need a crane to lift the piano and organ out of the building and was looking into that on Thursday.

Two huge air conditioners fell through the roof onto the fourth floor and will have to be removed as well.


Chapman didn’t know yet whether any of the building could be salvaged for sure. He was arranging to have an engineer inspect the place.

“It’s got a lot of potential still,” he said. “I’d hate to tear the old girl down.”

The huge amounts of water used to quench the fire had caused some beams to sag on a lower floor, he said, and they would need to be jacked up.

“The third floor probably looks to be the best of them,” with the least damage.

Chapman had put new siding on the building last year and had begun building apartments on the ground floor.

Even if the structure can be saved, money is an issue.

“We didn’t have a penny of insurance.”

Chapman expressed deep gratitude for the outpouring of support from the community since the disaster.

“Everyone has been so gracious in helping us out,” Chapman said. “Starting with the Red Cross.”

He wishes he knew who had made the 911 call that sent out those noisy fire trucks so he could thank that person.

“If not for them, we probably would hav

Thursday, after visiting one of those generous people to thank her in person, he was heading back into the building.

“I’m going to comb through again,” he said. “Hopefully, we may find some other treasures.”

Email Suzanne