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And the story continues

After the big boom days of the early part of the 20th century, and the opening of the new downtown on the north side of the railroad tracks, the Loan and Trust Building lost much of its appeal as an office building, but the business section south of the tracks didn’t just lie down and die.
Much of the town’s population was in that area, as well as the thriving plant of Bertha Zinc Company. The Calfee family owned large acreage of well lying land in that section. They had helped develop the village of Martin’s Tank, on that side of the railroad, so they continued to develop property there.
The Martin’s Tank business section continued to be that until well into the 20th century. The Loan and Trust Building in later years began to deteriorate somewhat, so that by the 1920s, it did not attract the wealthy occupants that it had in the “Gay ‘90’s.” There was still a large grocery store, a restaurant and several other small businesses, and it fitted in very well with the other commercial establishments along the long first block running south on Valley Street and eastward along Commerce. There was still a hotel and the furniture store-Funeral Home of Thomas and Fred Seagle doing business with the public.
From Maple Shade Inn westward, Commerce Street contained several brick buildings, where businesses still thrived, even on into the 1930s. But the once proud three-story Loan and trust Building continued to go down. During the big construction period in the early 1940s when the Radford Arsenal and the bagging plant at Dublin were being built, workers from those plants found refuge in the large empty rooms and halls of the old building because they couldn’t afford to be too particular, seeing as how at that time a man was lucky if he could find a chicken house to sleep in. At this time, the old building went through a period of minor rejuvenation as its living space served as port in a storm for construction workers. After this, only portions of the building were utilized, mostly by elderly apartment dwellers.
One of the tenants was 75-year-old W. J. Mahaffey, who, along with his wife, ran a small café on the first floor of the building. He rose early on April 27, 1956, as was his custom. He went down the stairs to light the gas water heater. It was 5:45 A. M. when he struck the match, and when he did, an explosion, the likes of which had never before been heard in Pulaski, rocked the area.
Eugene Welch lay awake in his bed on an upper floor of the building that had in later years been given the name Valley View Apartments. His wife was lighting the fire to cook breakfast. Their three children were asleep in their rooms. This would be moving day for the Welch family. Their belongings were all packed and ready to go.
He would later tell how his bed folded down over him. He tried in vain to free himself so that he could reach his wife as she screamed for help. From his hospital bed later that day he mourned, “ I didn’t hear a sound from the kids.” And he never would again because Lillie May Welch, 22, Garland, 16, and Victor, 12, died beneath the burning timbers along with his 50-year-old wife. Welch later had to be told this as he lay suffering from severe burns and fractures. Eugene Welch was one of the last survivors of the terrible explosion to be released from the hospital
Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.

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And the story continues

After the big boom days of the early part of the 20th century, and the opening of the new downtown on the north side of the railroad tracks, the Loan and Trust Building lost much of its appeal as an office building, but the business section south of the tracks didn’t just lie down and die.
Much of the town’s population was in that area, as well as the thriving plant of Bertha Zinc Company. The Calfee family owned large acreage of well lying land in that section. They had helped develop the village of Martin’s Tank, on that side of the railroad, so they continued to develop property there.
The Martin’s Tank business section continued to be that until well into the 20th century. The Loan and Trust Building in later years began to deteriorate somewhat, so that by the 1920s, it did not attract the wealthy occupants that it had in the “Gay ‘90’s.” There was still a large grocery store, a restaurant and several other small businesses, and it fitted in very well with the other commercial establishments along the long first block running south on Valley Street and eastward along Commerce. There was still a hotel and the furniture store-Funeral Home of Thomas and Fred Seagle doing business with the public.
From Maple Shade Inn westward, Commerce Street contained several brick buildings, where businesses still thrived, even on into the 1930s. But the once proud three-story Loan and trust Building continued to go down. During the big construction period in the early 1940s when the Radford Arsenal and the bagging plant at Dublin were being built, workers from those plants found refuge in the large empty rooms and halls of the old building because they couldn’t afford to be too particular, seeing as how at that time a man was lucky if he could find a chicken house to sleep in. At this time, the old building went through a period of minor rejuvenation as its living space served as port in a storm for construction workers. After this, only portions of the building were utilized, mostly by elderly apartment dwellers.
One of the tenants was 75-year-old W. J. Mahaffey, who, along with his wife, ran a small café on the first floor of the building. He rose early on April 27, 1956, as was his custom. He went down the stairs to light the gas water heater. It was 5:45 A. M. when he struck the match, and when he did, an explosion, the likes of which had never before been heard in Pulaski, rocked the area.
Eugene Welch lay awake in his bed on an upper floor of the building that had in later years been given the name Valley View Apartments. His wife was lighting the fire to cook breakfast. Their three children were asleep in their rooms. This would be moving day for the Welch family. Their belongings were all packed and ready to go.
He would later tell how his bed folded down over him. He tried in vain to free himself so that he could reach his wife as she screamed for help. From his hospital bed later that day he mourned, “ I didn’t hear a sound from the kids.” And he never would again because Lillie May Welch, 22, Garland, 16, and Victor, 12, died beneath the burning timbers along with his 50-year-old wife. Welch later had to be told this as he lay suffering from severe burns and fractures. Eugene Welch was one of the last survivors of the terrible explosion to be released from the hospital
Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.

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