EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the sixteenth in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington landmarks.
HUNTINGTON -- The name "Emmons" is one that's written large in Huntington's history.
Given his far-flung business interests, rail tycoon Collis P. Huntington could spend little time in the new town he founded in 1871 as the western terminus of his Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. He needed somebody he could put in charge in his absence. He found that man in his brother-in-law, Delos W. Emmons, who had married Huntington's sister Mary.
It was Emmons who oversaw the sale of the first lots sold in the new town. He was elected to the first City Council, served on a committee to build the city's first schools and was a director of the newly organized Bank of Huntington.
Three of his sons played significant roles in the city's early history. Carlton Emmons was a partner in the Emmons & Hawkins Hardware Co., for many years the largest wholesale hardware business in West Virginia. J. Alden "Ollie" Emmons ran a furniture factory and in 1890 was elected an officer of the Huntington Board of Trade, a predecessor of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce.
But it was Arthur S. Emmons who left the most visible stamp on the city when he built the two-building Emmons Apartments complex at 3rd Avenue and 12th Street. The Emmons Senior was erected in 1910 and the adjacent Emmons Junior in 1924. The two buildings once were considered the premier apartments in the city.
On Jan. 13, 2007, when a fire started in a closet at the Emmons Junior, flames quickly raced through the building and spread to the Emmons Senior. One of the worst fires in the city's history, the blaze claimed the lives of nine people. The two buildings were damaged beyond repair and were demolished. Today, the site remains a vacant lot.