Detroit, MI Wonderland Theatre Building Roof Collapse, Nov 1898


Its Collapse on a New Theatre In Detroit Buries Workmen.


Nearly Twenty Men Are Injured – The Roof Fell Without Warning and Buried the Workmen Beneath the Ruins – Not a Man Escaped Unwounded – The Building Was Uncompleted.

DETROIT, Mich. (Special). -- The new five-story Wonderland Theatre Building is now in ruins, and fifteen lives have been sacrificed by an appalling accident, which occurred therein Saturday afternoon.

Shortly before 2 o'clock, while some thirty-five men were at work in various parts of the unfinished theatre, the roof fell in without a second's warning. Nearly every workman was carried down into the theatre pit, the top gallery was crushed down upon the lower gallery, forming a slope, down which slid broken steel girders, planks, timbers, brick and a great quantity of cement from the roof, and carrying along a struggling mass of men into the pit below. Very few of the workmen escaped injury. The front wall of the building remained intact, but the east wall bulged and threatened to fall.

Some of the dead are:
JOHN CRESCELSKI, laborer; JAMES GEGERACHKO, laborer; AUGUST JANUSCHOWASKI, laborer; CORNELIUS McCARRON, lather; THEODORE MARTENS, laborer; AUGUST SALLUCH, laborer; MARTIN SHAFER, painter; GEORGE W. WHITE, tinner; PETER CONNORS, lather; JACOB LOWEN, metal polisher; FRANK WOLFE and ______ BETTS, cornice makers, and O. MULLEN.

Nearly a score of workingmen were injured, and out of this number two are considered as unlikely to recover.
The cause of the catastrophe seems to have been too much weight on the roof and faulty steel beams used in its construction. The top of the roof was of cement about eight inches thick, and many builders lean to the opinion that his was too heavy for the supporting steel work. Others claim that the fault lies in the steel work, which, they allege, was of poor quality. Several of the beams snapped off sharp, instead of bending.

The walls, steel work and roof were the only completed portions of the Wonderland, without floors or interior finish. The property is owned by PATRICK WIGGINS, partner of JAMES H. MOORE in his combined theatre and museum enterprises.

The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1898-11-11