Historic Bellwood residence gutted by fire

A historic Bellwood home was gutted by fire early yesterday morning.
Excelsior No. 1 assistant Fire Chief Jack McCloskey said the fire started around 3:30 a.m. He said the fire was under control within a half hour, but fire crews were on the scene for mop-up for several hours.
The three-story brick building located at 500 Stewart Street was once the home of Bellwood’s Cornmesser family. The house is now owned by Terry L. Crouse.
Assistant Chief McCloskey indicated at least two people were injured as a result of escaping from the fire. A man suffered a back injury and a teenage girl suffered an ankle injury. He did not identify the victims.
He said the American Red Cross had been called, but he did not know if the family was seeking their assistance. He said he believed the family was being aided by other relatives.
McCloskey said the fire was of unknown origin and was believed to have started in the living room. He said the state police fire marshal was on the scene yesterday around 11 a.m. to investigate the blaze. McCloskey estimated the value of the home at $300,000 and said it was “destroyed.”
Pinecroft, Tipton, Tyrone and Greenwood fire companies assisted Bellwood at the scene.
A Cornmesser relative, R. Cummins McNitt, was on the scene of the blaze yesterday and lamented the loss of the home.
McNitt called it a “grand home” that was built in the last quarter of the 19th century. He said it was one of the older homes in Bellwood. McNitt also said the property was once known for having a horse livery where the garage is now located.
The last of the Cornmessers to live in the house was Eleanor Grace Cornmesser, who died in 2004 while a guest at Epworth Manor in Tyrone. Miss Cornmesser was the daughter of the late Harry C. and Judith (Henshey) Cornmesser. After her work as a librarian in the education field, she retired in 1976 and lived in the family home at the corner of Stewart and South Cambria Street with her sister Matilda, who preceded her in death. Miss Cornmesser had another sister, Mary, who also preceded her in death.