Duluth, MN Opera House Fire, Jan 1889

Duluth, MN Opera House before the 1889 fire, photo from familyoldphotos.com

The Cause.

No altogether satisfactory explanation is found. Mice gnawing at matches is suggested as the most plausible. One of Gasser's clerks was in the store about midnight and heard rodents scamper about near where the fire caught. Spontaneous combustion or slow ignition from steam pipes is dismissed altogether. The fire started near the rear of the grocery, either just above or just below the ground floor. It is not supposed that there will be any opposition from insurance companies.

The House That Was.

The foundations for the Duluth Grand Opera house were laid in '82 and in '83 it was opened by Emma Abbott. It cost $100,000 and with fixtures and scenery about $120,000. The auditorium, containing 1,000 seats, was one of the prettiest in America, closely resembling the Bijon of Boston. Munger & Markell, the proprietors, though they are by no means impoverished by the loss, received expressions of sympathy yesterday from the Duluth public and telegrams from every part of the country. Equal sympathy is extended to many occupants whose loss, though smaller, is far heavier than the owners'.

As Emma Abbott was the first, Helen Barry was the last performer to appear here. Brought to this country to reopen here. Brought to this country to reopen the Union Square, prevented by fire from appearing in St. Paul, she left this house after a three nights' engagement just before its incineration. Is Miss Barry the original fire fiend?

Where They can be Found.

J. T. Condon will probably go into the Spalding House.

Several of the burned out firms have already taken new quarters.

Duncan & Brewer hold forth in the annex to the Banning block, 12 Second avenue west.

Munger & Markell are with the Lake Superior Elevator company, Board of Trade building.

Baldwin & Willcuts are with the D. J. Sinclair Abstract of Title company, Duluth National bank.

Dr. Boyce, of Boyce & Totman, started for St. Paul on the limited to purchase a new stock of drugs. His firm will occupy a store in the St. Louis.

W. C. Sargent in with the Pioneer Fuel company, in Hotel St. Louis; also Wisconsin Central railroad, Osborne & Frazer, J. C. Ennis and Partridge and Willcuts.

The West Duluth Land company is temporarily at room 508 Duluth National Bank building, but will fit up permanent quarters in the Spalding House at an early day.

The Kitchi Gammi club have one or two places under consideration for headquarters, but will decide upon nothing until tomorrow, when a meeting will be held in Paine & Lardner's bank.

Sparks from the Building.

Col. Stowell lost an elegant piano which was in the Kitchi Gammi rooms.

Messrs. Munger & Markell only a short time ago refused $215,000 for the Opera House property.

A "fire sale of real estate" is one of the peculiar things that has grown out of yesterday's fire. Mr. Gill announces such a sale. Mr. Gill is nothing, if not unique.

The fine oil painting executed by Mr. Gilbert Munger, brother of R. S. Munger, and valued at $1,000, was consumed with the rest of the contents of Munger & Markell's office.

A subscription for the benefit of Charles Hanson, the janitor who lost all his savings while alarming the tenants of the Opera house, is in circulation. B. R. Clarkson has charge of the paper.

At 4 a. m. Superior street was blocked by a mass of debris from the fallen wall. The tracks, however, were cleared by the time street cars began running, and the street was cleared full width before night.

Duluth newspaper men who were anxious to serve their outside papers found Operator James L. Owen, of the Western Union, equal to any task they could impose upon him. The manner in which he handled the vast amount of correspondence reflects great credit on him.

The Duluth Daily News, Duluth, MN 29 Jan 1889