Red Bank, NJ Theatre Fire, June 1905



Red Bank, N. J., June 24. -- The worst fire in the history of this town occurred early today when the Red Bank Opera House was destroyed as the result of a badly insulated electric wire.
Ten firemen were injured in the falling walls, one of them so badly that he may die. For a time it looked as though all the property within a radius of a hundred yards would be destroyed.
The Red Bank Opera House was the finest show place in this part of New Jersey. It was built twenty years ago and a great deal of money has been spent in recent years improving the big brick structures. The entire property represented an investment of over $25,000. It was owned by J. T. Rafford Allen.
The Boston Ideal Opera Company has been playing a three-night engagement at the opera house and performed to a large audience last night. About 1 o'clock this morning a boy named CONNORS, who is employed as a watchman at the theatre, discovered smoke coming from under scenery behind the stage. The boy is missing and it is feared that he perished.
CONNORS ran into the street and sounded an alarm. Few persons are abroad at that hour, but CONNORS told of the fire to the first two or three who appeared and went back on the stage. He has not been seen since.
Within a few minutes after the firemen arrived the flames burst out in a half a dozen places. Alarms were sent to the neighboring towns and villages, and volunteers came in from all sides, but the fire had gathered such headway that it was useless to fight it, and the efforts of the firemen were directed toward saving the Central House next door and the Conk Livery Stable and other large buildings nearby.
When the fire had gained considerable headway the walls began to fall. Some of the firemen were buried in the debris. One of them, JOHN HOLMSTEDT, of Independent Engine Company was taken out in a serious condition.
The firemen were at work all morning, and did not quit until the opera house was in ruins. All of the costumes, scenery, properties and music of the Boston Company were destroyed and their tour is brought to an abrupt termination. The manager of the company places his loss at $10,000. It was partially covered by insurance.

Evening World New York City 1905-06-24