Arson damages historic Westminster tavern

Loss put at $150,000

garage also set ablaze

March 09, 2000|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Arson heavily damaged the historic Cockey's Tavern on Westminster's Main Street early yesterday, and a garage was set on fire across the street hours later, authorities said.

At 5 a.m. yesterday -- as about 50 firefighters had brought the restaurant blaze under control -- a second fire broke out in a two-bay wooden garage about two blocks away and across the street at Ralph Street and Winters Alley, officials said.

"We have determined the fire was arson," said Deputy Chief Allen L. Ward of the state fire marshal's office. Authorities have no suspects in the blaze, which began outside the restaurant, and caused about $150,000 damage.

The garage fire caused about $10,000 damage.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is participating in the investigation, under a mutual-aid agreement with the agency involving commercial fires.

The two fires have led officials to take another look at the fires Dec. 23 and 24 at a Goodwill Industries retail store and at an 1860 historic building known as Rosser's Choice, properties separated by an alley in the first block of W. Main St.

The Goodwill fire has remained under investigation, while the apartment house fire was attributed to a heating unit.

"After putting 85 hours a week into something, I'm in a state of shock right now, more than I ever have been," said Robert L. Bauhof, 25, owner of Cockey's Tavern, surveying the ruined rear of the building.

He and his family have worked at the restaurant in the 200 block of E. Main St. since they bought it from a bank two years ago, reopening in June 1998.

He runs the business and cooks, and his sister, brother and their spouses, and his mother and father -- a retired Woodlawn baker -- all work at the tavern, he said. Bauhof vowed to reopen as soon as possible.

Jay Graybeal, director of Historical Society of Carroll County Inc., said Cockey's Tavern began as a mansion built about 1790 by Dr. William Willis, first clerk of the Carroll County Circuit Court after the county was formed in 1837. It was used as a courtroom before the courthouse opened.

About the turn of the century, Graybeal said, the house was acquired by the Boyle family and enlarged and renovated to its present size and appearance, in a Colonial-revival style.

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