Chicago, IL Langham House Fire, Mar 1885
THE LANGHAM HOUSE, CHICAGO, REDUCED TO SMOLDERING RUINS AND FIVE LIVES LOST.
THE MOST APPALLING SCENE SINCE THE GREAT FIRE OF 1871.
A WOMAN'S LEAP TO DEATH FROM A FIFTH-STORY WINDOW -- MIRACULOUS ESCAPES AND HEROIC RESCUES -- SCENES AND INCIDENTS -- THE HEAVIEST LOSERS.
Chicago, March 23. -- Since the fearful scenes at the great fire of 1871 no more appalling disaster accompanied by loss of life has occurred than the burning of the Landham house, a large fire-story family hotel, corner of Wabash avenue and Adams street, on Saturday night. There were over two hundred people in the building at the time, and the utmost confusion ensued.
The fire started in the basement and almost instantly dense volumes of smoke and fire poured up the elevator shafts and filled every portion of the building. Guests and servants rushed wildly down the stairways and into the streets. In fifteen minutes the entire building, from basement to roof, was a red-hot furnace, and the effect of thirty streams from the engines, which quickly responded to the double alarm, seemed only to intensify the heat.
The body of JOHN HENNESSY, an employe of Faxon & Co., was recovered from the ruins Sunday afternoon. He was beneath a falling wall, and was found crushed by a heavy piano. The dead are:
JOHN HENNESSY, single, aged twenty-eight, Winthrop Place.
WILLIAM BEAD, married, aged seventy-two, Van Buren street.
MRS. BELKNAP, Alabama.
Fire Insurance Patrolmen JOHN WALSH and EDWARD JONES, both single.
MRS. BELKNAP might have been saved but became wild with fright and leaped from a fifth-story window to the street, while a ladder was being raised for her rescue. Nothing is known of her identity further than that she came from Alabama, and had only been at the hotel a few days. Her neck was broken by the fall.
A blind man named THOMPSON, an employe of the hotel, is missing, also a traveling salesman from New York, name unknown. The traveling man's baggage saved from the hotel office bears the initials "D.R.B.," which is all that is known of him. He was seen to enter the building when the alarm sounded. and has not yet appeared to claim the baggage.
Had the fire occurred later in the evening the loss of life must have been appalling. As it was many of the guests and attaches of the hotel had already retired to bed, and only escaped in their nightclothes.
Mr. and MRS. HOOLE, of Cincinnati, had a miraculous escape. Both are cripples and unable to walk. MR. HOOLE is a member of the firm of Snider & Hoole, of this city. When the fire broke out MR. MARTINDALE, cashier of the firm, was on a business visit to their room on the fourth floor. He caught the invalids one under each arm and carrying them to the elevator started downward. They rushed into the very heart of the fire, however, and the car became as hot as a oven. Reversing the motion they tried the third floor but found the door locked. MARTINDALE threw himself against it, broke it open and dragged the couple down three flights of stairs and into the street.
MR. and MRS. SEARS, of Salt Lake City, were hemmed in by the flames and thought death certain. They were about to administer laudanum when the firemen reached their window with ladders.
MRS. MURRAY, wife of J. A. MURRAY, traveling passenger agent of the West shore railroad, climbed down the entire length of the fire escape unassisted with her little son clinging to her neck.
At midnight the building was a complete wreck. It was valued at $280,000. The hotel was conducted by O. M. SHAW & Son, and was lately known as the Crawford house. On the ground floor was the hotel office, Sheridan's tailoring establishment, Beranger's saloon, a restaurant and a laundry. Their loss is total, and, with that to the building, furniture and guests' effects, will not fall short of $350,000. Fairly insured. The hotel was one of the first structures erected after the great fire of 1871, and was owned by HOWARD & CUMMINGS. The Harden Hand Grenade company are also heavy losers.
Newark Daily Advocate Ohio 1885-03-23