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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fire Heavily Damages Cafe

A building at 431 N. Main St. that escaped the catastrophic Brownsville fire of 1919 was severely damaged by a fire that broke out shortly before midnight Monday.

The building houses the Corner Cafe that is owned and operated by the Joe and Linda DeZurney family. According to records at the Linn County Assessor’s Office, the building was constructed about 1900 and was valued at $110,400, including land.

“The fire was reported by someone who was leaving the Brownsville Saloon and saw flames coming out of a window on the east side of the building,” Brownsville Fire Chief Kevin Rogers said.

Rogers said about 30 firefighters from Brownsville, Halsey, Lebanon, Sweet Home and Tangent had the fire under control by about 2:30 a.m.

An addition on the north side of the building bore the brunt of the fire, Rogers said. The main portion of the building had extensive smoke damage, but was not destroyed.

Investigators will search for a cause of the fire Tuesday.

“It was filled with antiques and memorabilia. There was a tremendous amount of treasures,” said Captain Neal Karo said, a 51-year fire department volunteer. “It’s really a shame. When our family moved to town in 1945, it housed a tavern and the pool tables were in the addition.”

Community volunteer Joni Nelson said the building was one reason she and her husband moved to Brownsville in 1979.

Family members were operating an organic food store in the building and when Nelson visited, she and her husband fell in love with the community.

“It’s a real bummer,” Nelson said. “It’s really sad.”

Sydney DeZurney, the owners’ daughter, said the cafe is a family operation.

“My parents have owned the cafe for at least 15 years,” DeZurney said. “It’s a cozy, homey place with a lot of atmosphere.”

DeZurney said both of her parents enjoy collecting and selling antiques and displayed them at the cafe.

She said the cafe is not open for business on Mondays.

On Saturday, July 12, 1919, a fire broke out in downtown Brownsville and destroyed three blocks of the business district. In all 11 business buildings and 20 residences were destroyed.

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