The Sands-Dorsey Building today at Second and Main streets.
The Sands-Dorsey in 1956.
Federal Bank Building in the early 1900s.
As residents recall its colorful history, the brick facade of the Sands-Dorsey looks like a sorrowful lady.
Sections of her second story brick walls and scrollwork trimmings are gone, and her window trims are scorched.
It wasn’t until 9:30 a.m. on Sunday morning that firefighters called off their watch, said Tucumcari Fire Chief Mike Cherry.
The fire started on the roof at about 5 p.m. on Friday, said the owner Bob Hengstenberg.
Smoke continued to pour from the building for hours, as intermittent flames arose throughout Saturday night, Cherry said.
The future of the building has to be taken “day by day,” said Hengstenberg on Tuesday.
“There’s a lot of support to rebuild,” he said. “I want to rebuild. That’s my way.”
But it will have to be looked at by a structural engineer, said Hengstenberg.
An inspector from the state’s Construction Industries Department has been summoned to examine the building, Hengstenberg said.
One of the buildings expected to lend support to the city’s MainStreet project, the Sands- Dorsey was under construction in 1908 and was scheduled to open in mid-January 1909, according to a Tucumcari News report of Jan. 9, 1909. W.F. Buchanan, president of the Federal Bank, said the bank’s construction and interior was one of the finest in the West.
In addition to mosaic floors, it had “carved quartered oak with marble baseboards and finishings,” Buchanan stated.
Some of the first tenants included Mrs. Ruckers Millinery Parlors, the Public Service Co. and T.A. Muirhead.
At first glance many observers don’t see how the historical building could be saved.
“Don’t rush to conclusions and tear the building down,” said Elmo Baca, a planner and project consultant for the state’s MainStreet program. “There might be ways of salvaging the building.”
Baca recommended having the building looked at by a preservation architect.
“With a building of such significant history and significant location, you really need to look at all angles,” Baca said.
After the smoke had cleared many residents recalled their connections to the building.
Stanley Jennings said there were professional boxing matches upstairs before it was offices.
“All of the politicians met there,” he said.
Others said there was a tunnel from its basement under Second Street to the former First National Bank across the street.
And its basement was home to many poker games, Jennings said. Or, what some may have euphemistically called the “Coffee Club.”
Lynn Moncus recalled a boot shop and The Elder Shop that was where Sharon and Doug Quarles had opened their Gallery 111.
Many people also had their first jobs at the drug store. Connie Srote, a former soda jerk, said, “When I told the last owner that I'd been a soda-jerk at the Sands, he said that everyone who came through the door claimed that.”