Washington, DC Storm Causes Knickerbocker Theatre Roof Collapse, Jan 1922
The Knickerbocker Storm was a blizzard that occurred on January 27–28, 1922 in the upper South and middle Atlantic United States. The storm took its name from the resulting collapse of the Knickerbocker Theatre in Washington, D.C. shortly after 9 p.m. on January 28 which killed 98 people and injured 133.
The Knickerbocker Theatre was the largest and newest movie house in Washington, D.C., built in 1917 and owned by Harry Crandall. The roof was flat, which allowed the snow which had recently fallen to remain on the roof. During the movie's (Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford) intermission, the weight of the heavy, wet snow became too much for the roof to bear. The roof split down the middle, bringing down the balcony seating as well as a portion of the brick wall. Dozens were buried. The media reported it as similar to a scene from World War I. People with lanterns frantically attempted to rescue victims of the disaster. By midnight, 200 rescue workers had organized the scene. The numbers of those involved in the rescue increased to over 600 by 2:30 a.m. Nearby residents helped feed the rescuers, also supplying them with hot drinks. This disaster ranks as one of the worst in Washington. D.C. history. Congressman Andrew Jackson Barchfeld was among those killed in the theater. The theater's architect, Reginald Wyckliffe Geare, and owner, Harry M. Crandall, later committed suicide; Geare in 1927 and Crandall in 1937.
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