Fire won't delay opening of antiques store

December 13, 2012 11:45:19 AM

Carmen K. Sisson - [email protected]


An early morning fire was quickly extinguished Wednesday, but not before damaging a number of antiques that had been placed in storage in an outbuilding on the property. 


At approximately 9:30 a.m., a Southside resident out for a morning stroll noticed smoke pouring from a shed located at 504 Fifth St. S., behind Painted Lady of Columbus Bed and Breakfast.  


Homeowner and innkeeper Jennifer Upchurch Miller, who was not present when the blaze began, waited nervously in the side yard as firefighters worked to control the small fire. 


The 12-foot-by16-foot storage shed had been packed floor-to-ceiling with antiques, including an heirloom family photo encased in a bubble glass frame that Miller hoped would be spared.  


When she was allowed to peer inside the charred building, she was disappointed to learn that the fire began near the front door, where the photograph was stored. But other things, like an antique wooden mantle, appeared to be salvageable, she said.  


Miller, who purchased The Painted Lady in 2001, had restored the building and was preparing to open Coal House Antiques in April.  


"This is a bad, bad day," she said. 


But the fire spared the majority of Miller's pieces, and she still expects to meet her scheduled opening date, despite the setback. 


Though a number of cans of paint and paint thinner were stored in the building near where the fire began, Station 1 Battalion Chief Mark Ward said the cause of the blaze appeared to be electrical, and the chemicals were unlikely to have been a contributing factor.  


Ironically, the shed once stored coal for the sprawling Victorian home, which was built in 1890 for Columbus businessman and Tombigbee Cotton Mill president T.O. Burris and his wife, Dollie.  


"It really was a coal house today," Miller quipped.  


The bed and breakfast, along with other homes in the area, was not threatened by the isolated fire.

Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.