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Today is the Anniversary of The Newcomb Hotel Fire

Deron Johnson
Deron Johnson

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the Newcomb Hotel fire in Quincy. It was a beautiful night for early September in 2013. 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.

After an investigation by the Illinois Fire Marshal’s office, it was determined that the fire was arson. Ten days later, on September 16, 2013, the Quincy Police Department held a news conference at Washington Park and announced an arrest was made in the case. 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 last year, a sentence of ten years for theft and burglary charges was issued for the now 26-year-old Clark for stealing a truck and other items in August 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.

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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