Kennett Fire Destroys Landmark Building




Kennett Fire Destroys Landmark Building
By: Kate Scott

(Kennett, MO)--A Thursday morning fire in Kennett has left two young business owners looking for a place to rebuild their dream.

The fire broke out shortly after midnight at The Pizza Place, quickly destroying both the business and the historic building it was located in.  Kennett Firefighters arrived on the scene to find flames ripping through the building’s antique architecture, and shooting out of the second story windows.  By early evening, after nearly twenty hours of firefighting, a smoldering pile of rubble was all that remained of the memory-filled structure. 

“It's our hobby, our lives, our dreams,” business owner Chad Holifield told Heartland News about The Pizza Place.  “You've heard the expression, 'Your dreams just went up in smoke,’” he shook his head.  “Well, I think ours literally just did.”

Holifield says he and his brother-in-law, Mark Headlee, took over the building a year ago to fulfill their dream of opening a pizza parlor. But the building actually started with someone else's dream back in 1910, as the Decker Hotel.  Those were the days when First Street was paved with dirt, and you could get a night’s stay and a full breakfast for a dollar.

Through the years, the old building has taken the shape of other dreams as well, but it’s always been a landmark in Kennett.  “You can't replace the memories,” Holifield mourned.  “You can't replace the dreams. Everybody that’s lived in Kennett has a memory of this place, even the old passerby from the train station.” 

Now the familiar corner will look a little different to the folks who pass by. But even though the building is gone, along with the dreams it held, Holifield says he's already dreaming of a new building to fill with loyal pizza customers and a whole new set of memories.  “I’ve seen old pictures of the Decker Hotel where the owners were standing out in front,” he said.  “Maybe someday that'll be us, with someone else looking back on our dreams and passion. We'll get it back.” 

Fortunately, Holifield and Headlee do have insurance, which will enable them to rebuild The Pizza Place.  “We’re going to get something,” Holifield vowed to Heartland News.  “Right now, I don’t even have an idea of what it could be, but it’s going to be fun and it’s going to have some atmosphere…We’ve still got a long list of great customers, and we still have good pizza.”

Ironically, the brothers-in-law had just taken over the building on February 12th, 2002.  The devastating fire came just one day after their one-year anniversary. 

There’s no word yet on what started the fire.