The 1968 Fire at the Ashland Elks Lodge

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elks barber shop


When the Elks building was being built in the early 1900’s, it was decided to include rental spaces on the Main Street floor. The Elks Barber Shop opened soon after and continued to be in business for 46 years.


The fire on July 17, 1968 was the end of the Elks Barber Shop, as the building was declared unusable. Bert Kimsey was the last owner of the shop. He was there for 25 years. Some of the other barbers who worked in the shop were Slade Songer, Vern and Gene Hastings, Nate Bates, Floyd Grimes, Bob DeGroot and Jack McNerney.

lodge on fire
elks barber shop

Bert Kimsey’s shop was jokingly referred to as “The Kimsey Barber College of Ashland,” since several of the barbers who worked there later opened their own shops.


Special thanks to those who helped with the research on this article, including Ruby Kimsey, Parker and Gertie Hess, and Floyd Grimes.

— PER Bill Slack, 2003

The photo to the left and the following caption appeared in the July 18, 1968 Ashland Daily Tidings: “BUSINESS AS USUAL — When barber Bert Kimsey found his shop damaged by the Elks building fire Wednesday morning, he moved a chair outside and took on customer Eric Erickson. Lily Knower, manager of the badly damaged Penny’s store next door, boards up his facility.”

lodge after fire

after the fire

download the telegram Bill Slack received to inform him of the fire!