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Chicago, IL Jewish Synagogue Collapse, Sept 1887

The City In Brief.

A Partial Collapse of a New Synagogue Severely Injures Four Men.

Four Men Badly Injured.

A curious accident occurred at the Jewish synagogue now in progress of erection at the corner of Judd and Clinton streets early yesterday morning, which resulted in the injury of four laborers.

The new building is a large and tall one. The brick walls had been raised to the full height, and the great rafters on which the heavy roof was to rest were placed a week ago. Each of the beams which rested on the walls and met at the angle of the roof to form these rafters, weighed two tons. They were braced by thick purlines, and tied and bolted with iron, just as the contractor intended to leave them. All that remained was the walling up of the east and west ends, from the main wall to the top of the roof.

A few minutes before 8 o’clock in the morning, while twenty workmen were under and on the beams, five of these monster rafters fell, and four men were caught in the timbers as follows:

John Raymond, a bricklayer, 27 years of age, married, and residing at No. 79 Rubel street; left leg broken and serious internal injuries.
Nicholas Laddik, a bricklayer, 58 years old, single, boarding at No. 775 West Twenty-second street; left leg broken.
August Blich, 33 years old, married, and residing at No. 122 Archer Avenue; wounds about the head, including a scalp wound four inches long.
Albert Ringer, 28 years old, married, and residing at No 75 Rubel Street; leg broken and internal injuries.

Had the accident happened ten minutes later forty men would have been upon the rafters and many undoubtedly would have been killed. The sudden falling of the beams, braced strongly as they were, seems almost beyond explanation. The contractor says the strong west wind blowing upon the first rafter blew it upon the second and that upon the third, and so they all fell like a row of dominoes.

A carpenter, Tom Anderson, was perched on the very peak of the center of the rafter when the shock came. He blindly leaped into the air and lighted seventy-five feet below on the flooring in the midst of a number of his frightened fellow-workmen. To their amazement he picked himself up, rubbed his knee a moment, and them quietly remarked, “I’ll get drunk on this,” upon which he started for home. He was a sailor for fifteen years, and all who saw the perilous leap declare he never should have left the business.

It is almost miraculous that no one on the floors below was injured by the tons of falling timber. One heavy purture went clear through the maze of staging and beams and crosspieces to the cellar without doing a bit of damage. The rafters which fell over the east end of the building dropped upon a two-story frame cottage, numbered 68 Judd Street. One beam stands upright from the roof, which it pierced, together with the floor beneath, in falling end foremost upon it. Others beat in the roof of the kitchen in the rear as if it were of paper until it came within a foot of the head of Mrs. H. Rings, who was frying fish within. The lady deliberated a moment, went out among the anxious neighbors, and then fainted. Frank Nagle, the contractor, estimates the total loss incurred at $5,000.

Inter Ocean, Chicago, IL 14 Sept 1887



article | by Dr. Radut