Brooklyn, NY Tabernacle Fire, Nov 1889



New York, Oct. 13. -- The famous Brooklyn Tabernacle, of which Rev. T. DeWitt Talmage, D.D., is pastor, was today, for the second time in its history, destroyed by fire. At 2:15 o'clock this morning a policeman discovered flames issuing from the small windows over the main entrance. Rushing to the nearest signal box he sent in an alarm. The fire was found to have assumed large proportions and additional alarms, calling for all available apparatus, was sent in. A three story frame structure at No. 353 Schermerhorn Street, adjoining the church on the east side, was the first to take fire, and 355, a similar structure, followed; No. 357 was also damaged. On the west side of the church the flames extended to two brick dwellings, and on the opposite side of Schermerhorn Street, a row of three story brick dwellings, numbered 338 to 348, suffered from the intense heat. The window glass was broken and the wood work scorched.
While the firemen and police worked for the salvation of the property and persons, the doomed church building was rapidly being consumed. In an hour's time the tottering walls remained. Dr. Talmage was on the scene soon after the first alarm and did not leave until he had seen the edifice which had been his pride laid in ashes. Nearly all the members of the Tabernacle congregation received their first intimation of the fire upon rounding the adjacent corners and being confronted by the blackened walls and smouldering ruins. No church services were held today, but a notice upon the tree at the corner of Third and Schermerhorn Streets announced Sunday School in the Hall of Young Men's Christian Association where about 600 teachers and scholars assembled in the afternoon. Supt. R. L. Fells told them that the present was no time to cry or mourn; the calamity had befallen the church and it was the duty of all to work together until a new home could be built.
The origin of the fire is unknown. The sexton denies the rumor that the fires were lighted yesterday in the furnaces. Edison's men were in the building until 5:30 p.m. yesterday arranging a new electric plant, and it is thought that during the thunder-shower, which prevailed during the night, lightning was carried into the building by the wires which ran around the gallery about on a level with where the flames were first seen. The loss to the church building, including the organ, which was one of the finest in the country, is $150,000. It is said to be covered by insurance in a number of companies.
The building was brick with stone trimmings, had a frontage of 150 feet and a depth of 113 feet, to which had recently been added an extension 60 feet wide and 12 feet deep. It had a seating capacity of 2,800 and was always fully taxed at the Sunday services. Losses to the adjoining property are small.
The trustees were in session at the house of Dr. Talmage tonight and stated that the amount of insurance was $129,450.
Dr. Talmage has issued an appeal to the public for help. I make an appeal, he says, to all our friends throughout Christendom for help in this our hour of need.
The fire forces D. Talmage to postpone his trip to the Holy Land. The services will be held hereafter in the Brooklyn Academy.

Gazette Sandusky Ohio 1889-11-13