Rose Hotel Fire

1442 Main Street, Newman, CA

On February 21, 1978, tragedy struck Newman when a devastating fire engulfed the historic Rose Hotel.  After a huge explosion, a subsequent fire broke out in the early hours of the morning, claiming one life (60-year-old Joseph Rufus Lee) and left the Rose Hotel in ruins (two adjoining business buildings, Enrique's Bar & Peluso Law Firm, were heavily damaged as well).

The Rose Hotel, a prominent landmark in Newman, had stood for over 65 years, serving as a hub for travelers and locals alike. Its elegant architecture and rich history made it an iconic part of the town's identity.

The building was erected in 1912 by Joe House to host a hotel (“The Jessie”, named after Joe's wife) and one of Newman’s first movie theatres, “The Edison” (1912 - 1922).  The building was later sold in 1941 to Mr. & Mrs. Thos. Rose who renamed it the "Rose Hotel".

Investigations into the cause of the fire began almost immediately, however after several months, no conclusive evidence was found to make a determination.  Authorities ultimately decided that the fire was most likely a case of arson, a crime which has remained unsolved to this day.

 Below you will find a collection of images from the Museum's archives - Click on the thumbnail pictures to enlarge to full size