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Despite fire, Dahlonega pub plans for St. Patricks Day
Fire damaged Shenanigan's Restaurant & Irish Pub in Dahlonega early Thursday morning. - photo by Carly Sharec

Owners of an Irish restaurant and pub in Dahlonega are trying to make plans for a St. Patrick’s Day weekend without a building.

The historic structure that houses Shenanigan’s burned early Thursday morning.

Glenn Allen, spokesman for Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, said investigators determined the fire started in the area of a gas heater in the office of the restaurant on North Chestatee Street. Allen said there was heavy damage but did not yet have a dollar estimate.

Lumpkin County Fire Chief David Wimpy said someone heard the fire alarm going off around 5:30 a.m. and called the fire department. Fire was showing when firefighters arrived, and Camp Frank D. Merrill, Dawson County and Hall County fire departments were contacted to help.

“There was extensive damage to the building, but no one was hurt,” Wimpy said. Damage was mostly contained to the side of the building facing Warwick Street.

Leisa Thigpin, an office manager at nearby St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church, saw the destruction on her way to work.

“I’m really sad for them because St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, and they already have their tents up for their bands and stuff,” she said. “And that’s a big, big festival time for them, and so now this is going to put a crimp in that.”

Tommy Lee, who owns the restaurant along with wife Machi Lee and partner Deb Rowe, said St. Patrick’s Day would go on but maybe not as planned.

“We are going to do something definitely Monday,” Lee said. “Where we’re going to do it as of yet we haven’t really decided. We’re even toying with the idea of doing something on Saturday and Sunday.”

Lee said three other businesses in the area offered their space for Monday’s holiday festivities.

“We’ll be getting the word out as best we can,” he said about future plans. “We’ve got customers that have already called and have volunteered to come in and clean up. The community here has been so great.”

As far as the building itself, it was unclear when it will reopen or even what repairs will be needed.

“Oddly enough, the back office where our massage therapist is, is virtually untouched,” building owner Hal Williams said. “But this office, the attorney office upstairs and the attic (have heavy damage.)”

Shenanigan’s sustained heavy water damage.

“That’s to be expected,” Williams said. “We have hope that we’ll be able to recover and get Shenanigans back in business.”

Williams bought the property in the 1980s, turning it into a commercial space. Shenanigan’s opened there in 2007.

The building, which dates to 1882, is on the former “garden lot of Dr. M.H. Van Dyke,” according to local historian Anne Amerson.

“He was the director of the gold mining company that built the first local aqueduct to convey water for hydraulic mining,” she said. From there, the property transferred to E.W. Strickland after the sheriff seized it as a result of a legal suit against Van Dyke. Strickland had the building constructed as his home until his death.

Amerson said people from T.F. Christian, Dahlonega’s former clerk of superior court, to Jessie Garner, Dahlonega’s first female mayor, lived there.

Times staff writer Carly Sharec contributed to this report.