The current exhibit at the Lydia B. Cannon Museum, The Great Fire of 1909, features many photographs taken before and after the conflagration that changed the business district permanently. Occasionally, new ones are rediscovered in the collection or are submitted to the Milton Historical Society. One of these has just surfaced in the course of an inventory review, and I’ve posted it here because of the positioning of the camera.
To better understand what we’re looking at, I’ve added some annotations to the photograph:
The building labeled “The Big Store,” of which only one wall is visible, was ground zero for the fire of August 13, 1909. Directly across the street sometimes referred to as Wharf Alley is a partial view of S. J. Wilson’s Funeral and General Store (today this is the site of the M&T Bank building). The Ponder Hotel, on the other side of Front Street from Wilson’s Store, occupied the entire block bounded by Federal Street, Front Street, Chestnut Street, and Strawberry Alley. The site of the former hotel is now occupied by the Milton Police HQ building, the Milton Fire House, and four commercial buildings facing Federal Street.
This particular photograph, donated to the Museum by Charles Thackery, is unattributed and undated. It is significant, however because it reveals the proximity of the Big Store to two other major businesses which caught fire from its flames and flying sparks.