Citywide Fire in Fayetteville, 1831

An 1825 map of Fayetteville. Image from the Library of Congress.On May 29, 1831, much of Fayetteville burned to the ground.

Starting in a kitchen on the northwest corner of Market Square, the fire’s central starting point was part of the reason it caused so much destruction. Though townspeople began trying to extinguish it around it noon, the fire continued to spread rapidly, destroying many of the nearby structures, including the building where the state had ratified the U.S. Constitution.

The town’s fire engine was unable to contain the blaze and, indeed, was destroyed itself in the flames. All destroyed, and the streets became a chaotic mess of people trying to save family members and possessions as the fire roared through town.

After four hours the inferno was quenched but not before taking more than 600 buildings including hundreds of homes, a school, two hotels, 105 stores, two banks and all but one of the city’s churches.

Although many people were injured and almost everyone displaced, no one was killed. Private donations poured into town once news of the disaster spread, with over $100,000 collected and distributed to the people of Fayetteville.

Many of today’s older buildings in the city, such as the Market House, are ones built after this spectacular fire.

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