A mystery photo? Not any longer!
1. I found this photo on the the Portal to Texas History and wondered... where could this be? It was labeled "Bonham, Texas" and belongs to the Austin Public Library. It is not mapped, however.
2. The fantastic folks at the Fannin County Museum of History have a public archival interface (take note, all other archives!) and through them, I learned that the Sadler, Coleman & Co. implement store depicted being saved from fire in the photograph is now the disused building of Smith, Moore & Williams at 223 N. Main Street.
3. The Sadler, Coleman & Co. building was erected in the 1880s according to the 2021 newspaper article located in the Fannin County Museum of History Archives, meaning that the wooden building that's burning next to it was most likely erected a bit earlier (or a lot earlier) than that.
4. Sanborn Maps from the 1880s lead me to believe that the burning building was the Crockett Hotel in Bonham, Texas, but that the Sadler, Coleman & Co. building did not exist in the 1880s.
5. The brick building for the Sadler, Coleman & Co. Implement Store does not appear on Sanborn Maps until 1897. Prior maps show a long, wooden building at the corner of Main Street & Oak, today's Main Street & 3rd.
6. Hence (fancy word!) this calamity occurred sometimes between 1897 and 1902, as the 1902 Sanborn map shows that the Sadler, Coleman & Co. building expanded its footprint where the Crockett Hotel once was. It's easy to recognize the expansion, because the building has the same architectural details.
8. THANK YOU for attending my TED talk. No, seriously, I'm forever grateful that RRH readers participate in my bizarre hobby :)