Fire Claims Clubhouse Of Country Club

A fire has claimed the clubhouse of the Gilmer Country Club. Authorities believe it was started by lightning.

It happened around 4 a.m. Friday for over 40 years the clubhouse at the Gilmer Country Cub has been a home away from home for folks.

"It's kind of sad, kind of like passing of an old friend," said longtime member Ron Poole.

Connie Duke has good memories too. She remembers the night she attended her first high school dance there, the building has been a big part of her life ever since.

"When we got married that was the first thing we had to do is join the country club because he loved golf and he grew up out here as a caddie and we joined and we've been a member ever since," Duke said. "It's been a place where friends can meet and people could become more than just acquaintances."

The old building has held on to many memories. For members like Gordon Finney, it was just part of their daily routine.

"You have your golfers come in about 8 o'clock, then you'll have a few come in that play in the afternoon.... they play cards in the morning," he said. "We all feel lost."
"When you come over here practically everyday and now there is nothing it's an empty feeling."

With the overnight fire the building is a total loss, but members said the good times won't stop.

"It's really a sad lost that we've lost this place but I know we'll rebuild it and we'll all pitch in together and we'll get it rebuilt," said Duke. "If we have to build it stone by stone and pitch in to get it done ourselves, we'll do it."

"Investigators believe lightning started the fire. The club does have insurance. They plan to get started on a new building as soon as they can.

Chris Gibson, reporting