Neighbors helping neighbors: Between the Rivers community comes together after fire destroys a historic home and heavily damages another. Cause of Saturday’s blaze is still under investigation.

Neighbors helping neighbors: Between the Rivers community comes together after fire destroys a historic home and heavily damages another. Cause of Saturday’s blaze is still under investigation.

A contributed photo Saturday morning shows the aftermath of the blaze at 313 E. 4th Ave. No one was injured.
Fire fully engulfs a historic home under restoration at  313 E. Fourth Ave. in the Between the Rivers District. Photo courtesy of Katrina Meehan.

 

While Rome-Floyd Fire investigators continue to investigate the cause of Saturday’s early morning blaze that destroyed a historic home at 313 E. Fourth Ave., another story from the tragedy is how neighbors in the Between the Rivers community came together to help each other.

The home at 313 E. 4th Avenue in Downtown Rome was being renovated. (Google photo)

The fire started around 3:30 a.m. Saturday at the historic 1880s Victorian home owned by local businessman Ira Levy and his wife, Libby. The couple, well-known for their preservation and rehabilitation of historic properties in Rome, had been renovating the home over the last year since saving it from demolition in 2017. Their restoration work was nearly complete and the home was soon to go on the market.

Fortunately, no one was injured but the fire destroyed the property, and heavily damaged the neighboring house at 311 E. Fourth Ave., owned by Dr. Peter and Suzy Gilbert. Neighbors, including Leanne and Joe Cook, flocked to the Gilberts’ home to help.

“We saw what was happening and stopped to see how we could help. There were so many neighbors already helping but we all wanted to help anyway we could,” says Leanne, who works as the Senior Marketing Director at Harbin Clinic. Gilbert, a retired Harbin Clinic urologist, and Leanne already had a special connection from their work together on Harbin Family history since Gilbert is a descendant of the Harbin family.

“He is the real historian of Harbin history in the family. He had so many old letters from the family, some from Dr. Wylie Reeder Harbin, the first Harbin physician in Georgia. I had helped him sort and organize the letters and he planned to put them together into a book,” she says.

“I knew he was storing those letters under a bed at his home, so we helped to get them out…there was lots of water damage from the fire. So, we took the letters to my office at Harbin and spread them all out to help them dry. There were not only Harbin history letters but also personal letters and cards of the family from Mother’s Days and Father’s Days…things they cherish.

“It was so humbling to see how all the neighbors came together to help the Levys and the Gilberts…we all just pitched in to help in any way we could.”

Previous report

Floyd E-911 reports fire crews are still on scene of a fire at 313 E. Fourth Ave. in Downtown Rome this morning following an overnight blaze. The historic 1880s Victorian home was being renovated by Rome businessman Ira Levy and his wife, Libby. In a recent interview with Levy, he said their nearly two-year restoration work on the property was almost complete and house would soon be going on the market. According to previous reports, the property was previously used as an apartment building several years ago.

No injuries were reported. The fire also damaged a neighboring house. We are awaiting additional details from the Rome-Floyd Fire Department.

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