Cincinnati, OH Opera House Fire, Sept 1885

Over-The Rhine Fire.

A 1 O’clock Conflagration of Considerable Extent.

Several Buildings Burned Or Damaged.

The “Scene Dock” of Heuck’s Opera-House Partly Destroyed-Aggregate Loss to All Parties About $4,000.

Shortly before 1 o’clock fire originated from some unknown cause in a small frame shed in the rear of Mrs. M. Hempel’s residence, No. 19 Bremen Street. The flames spread with great rapidity, and after consuming the dry timber of which the shed was constructed, found their way into the large one-story structure known as the “scene dock” of Heuck’s Opera house . This building is used as a scenery store room, and in it is also located the boiler, dynamo and other essentials for supplying not only Heuck’s New Opera house, the rear of which is directly opposite, with electricity for the lamps, but also the People’s Theater. The scenery and other inflammable materials to which the fire caught burned fiercely, and for a time disastrous conflagration was imminent. The dense heat and smoke in the scene house aroused W.C. White and family, who occupy quarters in the rear of a one story frame house directly adjoining, and from which the scene dock can be entered.

Word was at once sent to Officers Christian and Young, who turned in an alarm from Box 72. When the engines arrived the fire had spread into the rear portion of J.V. Haverkotte’s wagon shop, on Race street, directly in the rear of the scene dock. Two three story tenement houses on the south of Mrs. Hempel’s place were also badly scorched. Once at work, the Department soon succeeded in extinguishing the flames, but not before considerable damage had been done.

Mrs. Hempel used the shed in which the fire started at a pigs’ feet packing house. Her loss is about $800, covered by insurance in the Eureka Company. Haverkotte’s loss is about $1,000 by fire and water. Jas E. Pennessy, manager of Heuck’s Opera house, placed the loss on scenery and other effects at $4,500. The electric light machine is slightly damaged by water. Wm. White, who is a attaché of the People’s, loses everything, and can ill afford his misfortune. Had it not been for his presence of mind in rushing into the scene house and rolling a barrel of lubricating oil into the street, when the fire was discovered, a disastrous explosion must have followed. Several dwelling in the immediate vicinity were badly scorched, and the greatest excitement prevailed for a time.

Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, Cincinnati, OH 7 Sept 1885