By Richard Gaines
After he and his wife, Patricia Schlichte Johnstone, escaped the early Friday morning fire that would devastate their home and her law office, city assessor Gary Johnstone was taken to Addison Gilbert Hospital, where he was treated for smoke inhalation.
But once he was released, Johnstone quickly returned to the scene, where he and wife watched helplessly from across Pleasant Street as the fire gutted the building.
The Schlicte-Johnstone Building, as it is known, has been in the family for decades, first as the law office of Patricia's late father, Miles Schlichte, who had been a city councilor and School Committee member in the 1960s.
Sadness was etched on their faces as they realized the hopelessness of recovering most of their professional or personal belongings.
Gary Johnstone, who recently opened Stone's Pub a few blocks to the east on Main Street, said that many of his wife's law records had been backed up on a disk locked in a fireproof safe, but he said he was told it had suffered some water damage.
Otherwise, nothing was saved from the fire that worked its way through the funnels between the brick exterior and the interior framing, and shot through the roof.
"All our things — a total loss," Patricia said as friends embraced her and her husband.
Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3464, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.