Community remembers Williamston hotel destroyed in fire

WILLIAMSTON, N.C. (WNCT) — The Magnuson Hotel continued to smolder Thursday after flames ravaged the building late Wednesday night.

Officials said the fire started due to a severe electrical shortage coming out of the main power for the hotel.

The hotel, previously a Holiday Inn, used to serve as a place to unwind.

“It was a place young people could come and dance and just enjoy themselves and again, socialize, relax, if need be,” said Chief James Peele, Williamston Fire Department.

That was before an overnight fire destroyed the small-town treasure.

““It was a great place for the town of Williamston or the citizens of Williamston and again a large icon for a small town,” said Peele.

Peele knows the history behind the hotel.

“It’s seen a lot and if the walls could talk, it could be a really good story to hear,” Peele said.

For Barney Conway, the executive director of the Martin County Tourism Development Authority, the loss of the hotel is personal.

“It was kind of emotional because the motel and restaurant across the street was one that my dad built,” Conway said.

He said it’s hard to lose such an historic staple.

“When I see things like this go down, that’s one more piece of the bricks that help hold our county together,” Conway said.

Despite the damage, Conway is optimistic.

“Hopefully something new and better will come along and fill this vacant space here,” said Conway.


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