I was reminded on Labor Day that we just past an anniversary date of one of Quincy's largest fires which destroyed one of the city's historic hotels. It was one of those fires in Quincy that people who lived here in 2013 will forever remember. That fire was the 5-alarm Newcomb Hotel fire which happened 7 years ago last Sunday.

It was a beautiful night for September. The sun had set and many people were out on what turned out to be a not so typical night in Quincy's downtown district.

At 8:45 p.m. the 911 dispatcher received a call of smoke and flames coming from the old abandoned Newcomb Hotel. The Quincy Fire Department was immediately dispatched to the scene and upon arrival quickly called in a second alarm. Eventually, the fire turned into a full fledged 5 alarm blaze. The building, built in 1888, was fully engulfed in flames and turned out to be a total loss.

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After an investigation by the Illinois Fire Marshal's office, it was determined that the fire was arson. Ten days later then 24-year-old Matthew C. Clark was arrested for Burglary and Criminal Damage to Property over 100-thousand dollars. He also admitted to being in the building looking for scrap metal in the vacant building the night of the fire.

Eventually, a negotiated plea of guilty to burglary charges related to the Newcomb Hotel fire led to a four and a half year probation sentence for Clark. The criminal damage to property charge was dropped but Clark was required to pay restitution.

In May of 2016, a sentence of ten years for theft and burglary charges was issued for  Clark for stealing a truck and other items in August of 2014. Clark was convicted of stealing a van from Transitions of Western Illinois in Quincy then setting it on fire in a barn in Pike County, Illinois.

Clark was also arrested in February of this year for breaking into the old County Market building at 436 N. 30th Street in Quincy. Quincy Police did find possible burglary tools at the scene and later found Clark in the rear of the building. Clark was arrested and held on charges of burglary, possession of burglary tools, and filing a false police report. He is currently being held in the Adams County Jail on a burglary charge.

Driving past 4th and Maine in Quincy still looks different without the Newcomb Hotel building there. The City of Quincy had hopes the property would be sold quickly, but that has not happened.



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