It was all Loye Ashton could do-
stand by, as he watched the building he’s owned for four decades go up in flames.
“The fact that no lives have been lost, no one got injured, and we were able to save a large portion of the structure, a lot of things just lined up for us,” says Marc Brade, Williston Fire Department assistant chief.
The original building was built in the late 1800s before being torn down and rebuilt in the early 1900s. Hedderich’s was originally a department store that eventually closed in the 1980s. Ashton reopened the store as an antique shop and museum.
“He kept the Hedderich name. And he had a lot of little businesses in there. It was a unique place. It was really a neat place to go into,” says Chuck Wilder, owner of Books on Broadway.
And Ashton was fond of sharing the history of the items kept there. Items like planes, trains, and automobiles.
“My grandson, Conner, just loved going down there and visiting and seeing all the things he had. And Doc Ashton just sort of took him under his wing,” says Randy Parpart, an antique collector.
Many are hopeful most of the relics and memorabilia will be recovered from the rubble.
“It’s a real shock. I think a lot of people are really walking around dazed by this. It’s something you expect to be here forever. And now, it’s not,” says Wilder.
For so many, Hedderich’s was more than a store. It was a landmark, an icon, a place with a rich history that imparted many vivid memories.
The cause of the fire is believed to have been accidental. However, there was such extensive damage to the area where the fire originated, that an exact cause is unlikely to be determined. No injuries were reported as a result of the fire.