The current form of Chariton's square was in one sense shaped by fire, many major and some minor. Frame buildings burned and were rebuilt in brick. Then brick buildings burned and, again, were rebuilt.
The first major recorded fire occurred early Tuesday, Feb. 12, 1867, and destroyed much if not all of the buildings, all frame, then standing south of the alley on the west side of the square. It started in the harness shop of T.A. Matson, then located where the Stanton Building now stands.
Although no issues of Chariton newspapers from that month survived, the fire was reported upon in The Burlington Daily Hawkeye of Thursday, 21 February 1867, as follows:
"The Chariton Patriot of Tuesday, gives the particulars of a disastrous fire which occurred in that place last Tuesday morning. Six business houses were burned, entailing a loss of $75,000. The fire broke out in the harness shop of T.A. Matson, and within an hour the whole street was in flames. The origin of the fire is not known. The following are the principal losses:
T.A. Matson, loss $8,000; insured for about $5,000.
D.W. Waynick, loss $7,000; insured, $3,000.
John Rosa, loss $8,000; insured, $600.
Popham & Marsh, loss $3,500; insured $2,000.
W.W. Waynick, loss $5,000; insured, $2,100.
Wm. & Fred Gasser, loss $5,000; no insurance.
T.M. Stuart & Bros., Attorneys, books and papers, $200.
C.T. Brant, dentist, fixtures, $75; no insurance.
D.D. Waynick, dry goods, loss $10,000; partly insured.
Many others occupying offices and rooms in some of the buildings lost considerable, but we have not a complete list.
The insurance companies that are the heaviest losers are as follows: State, at Des Moines; Iowa Mutual; Keokuk; Burlington; Merchants, at Chicago; Quincy, at Quincy, Ill.