New Brunswick

Vogue Theatre, latest Miramichi building to go up in smoke, a 'big loss'

Shaun O'Reilly slept through the fiery chaos Sunday morning and woke up to the news that another building important in the community's life and history had caught fire.

Fire hit three buildings early Sunday in Chatham area

The interior of Vogue Theatre suffered extensive damage during an early morning fire in Chatham. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Shaun O'Reilly slept through the fiery chaos Sunday morning and woke up to the news that another building important in the community's life and history had caught fire.

Like many Miramichi residents, O'Reilly, president of the Miramichi History Museum, was shocked and saddened by the news the Vogue Theatre and two other buildings had burned.

"I got up this morning at quarter to eight and realized that something was going on … and was extremely saddened and shocked to see what had transpired through the night," he said.

The Vogue Theatre was not the first building to catch fire around 4:10 a.m., but it still suffered extensive damage to its interior. It was deemed not structurally sound by Miramichi's deputy fire chief and demolished Sunday afternoon.

Miramichi has lost other historic buildings to fires in recent memory, including a building that once was its former train station in 2018 and Opera House in 2010.

Michelle Conroy, Miramichi's MLA,worked at Vogue Theatre for six years when she was a teen and was sad to hear the building was beyond repair after the fire.

"It's just a complete devastation that we lose another amazing building in our city," Conroy said. 

The Vogue Theatre was built in the late 1940s or early 1950s, O'Reilly said. Over the years, it's been a movie theatre and a focal point for the local arts community.

Vogue Theatre, a focal point in the Miramichi arts community, caught fire early Sunday from the flames from another building. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Vogue Theatre was originally one of two movie spots in downtown Chatham, O'Reilly said.

It closed in 2000 and sat vacant on the lot for years, until EastSide Church bought it in 2012 and restored it. 

"Previous to that, it was the going spot for entertainment in downtown Chatham," he said. "Everyone will remember certain things about the old Vogue Theatre,:

O'Reilly's favourite memories include the advertisement that played before each feature film and mispronounced Miramichi, and a verbal reminder of when the candy bar was closing.

An excavator knocks down Vogue Theatre in the afternoon. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Several of the buildings next door to Vogue used to be used by a meat-packing company, O'Reilly said. It made sausages and beef patties and sold agricultural feed. That history was destroyed in Sunday's fire.

Memorabilia from a local landmark restaurant, Ben's Lunch Room, housed in one of those buildings, was also lost. 

Vogue is of personal significance to O'Reilly, whose grandfather owned a blacksmith's shop next door to the theatre. 

"I spent much time for many, many hours at my grandparents when I was very young and was right by the Vogue … it's a big loss for everybody in the community."

It's too soon to say what caused Sunday's fire.

With files from Melissa Friedman, Gary Moore

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