Providence, RI Theatre Fire, Oct 1844

PROVIDENCE THEATRE BURNED---Dr. LARDNER'S PHILOSOPHICAL APPARATUS, AND RUSSELL'S PLANETARIUM DESTROYED.--- The Providence Theatre was consumed on Friday morning The fire broke out about one o'clock. The building had been occupied the evening previous by Dr. Lardner, who delivered there the last of his course of scientific lectures. Besides the scenery and fixtures of the Theatre, all Dr. Lardner's philosophical apparatus, including the great microscope, and a splendid collection of paintings, worth together $15,000, was consumed, and we understand the Dr. had effected no insurance on the property The splendid planetarium, constructed by Mr. Russell, of Ohio, with the labor of twenty years, was also burned. The value is said to have been $12,000, and it was insured for $8,000, at an office in Hartford, Ct. It belonged to Messrs. Haswell & Robinson, who are said to have lost in addition to the planetarium, $2,000 worth of philosophical apparatus.

The opposite house of Mr. Gardner T. Swartx, with the contiguous stables and ware rooms, was very badly burnt and injured, and was in imminent danger of being wholly destroyed.

The Southern Patriot, Charleston, SC 31 Oct 1844


DESTRUCTIVE FIRE AT PROVIDENCE.----We yesterday announced the fact that the theatre at Providence, R. I., with all of Dr. Lardner's scientific apparatus, with Russell's Planetarium, had been destroyed by fire. We extract the following further particulars from the Providence papers:---

The fire broke out in the theatre about one o'clock this morning, and soon destroyed the whole of the inside of the theatre, leaving nothing standing but the bare walls.

The splendid, magnificent Panorama of the Heavens, the most beautiful and impressive thing of the kind which has ever been exhibited to the scientific world, is destroyed, and cannot be replaced. We regret the loss of this map of the heavens, more than any thing else. The Planetarium can be more easily replaced, but this is not likely to be done. Mr. Russell is seventy-five years old, and will probably never be able to re-construct it. The Gas Microscope is lost, and a large number of Telescopic Views and Maps of the Moon, the Planets and Stars. The loss to science is irreparable. And the total loss to Dr. Lardner is $25,000. The Planetarium was insured in Hartford for $8,000, but it is doubtful whether it can be recovered, as the instrument was in a theatre.

A brick house next to the theatre was somewhat injured, It was owned by Mrs. L. Peck, and occupied by Mr. Child.

Mr. Dean's carpenter's shop with all his tools, were destroyed---loss $1,000. Several other buildings were slightly injured. The ball of the Baptist Church steeple caught fie, although at the height of 1430 feet. It is not known how the fire originated. Dr. Lardner's men had finished the packing of the apparatus and left the theatre about an hour before.

The Sun, Baltimore, MD 29 Oct 1844


The Fire at Providence.---The insurance of $8,000 on Dr. Lardner's Planetarium was effected at the Protection Office, in Hartford.----The loss of Mr. G. T. Swarts is about $1,250; no insurance. The slight damage done to the Pine street Baptist church, and the more serious injury to the hsuse[sic] of Mrs. L. Peck, is covered by insurance at the Mutual Office, in Providence.

The Sun, Baltimore, MD 30 Oct 1844


(The Providence Theatre)

It was destroyed by fire on the morning of Oct. 25, 1844. At the time of the disaster it was occupied by Doctor Lardner for astronomical lectures. The fire destroyed his famous planetarium, which occupied the entire pit, and was valued at thirteen thousand dollars, besides other apparatus of a costly description. The origin of the fire was never ascertained. Some ascribed it to the furnace used with the little steam engine which gave motion to the planetarium, but the majority deemed it the work of in incendiary, impelled by fanaticism of by a love of malicious mischief. The total loss, exclusive of insurance, was $52,000. Dr. Lardner's planetarium, which was destroyed, had been twenty years in construction. During the last four years of this theatre, Mr. G. H. Greene (now connected with the Boston and Providence Clothing Company) was the treasurer.

During the conflagration the flames caught the spire of the wooden meeting-house opposite, which, however, was by great exertions preserved, and also ignited a coffin warehouse in the neighborhood. The doors were broken open, and the crowd who were watching the burning theatre and listening to the shouts of the firemen and the clangor of the alarm-bells, were startled at the unexpected sight of coffins borne on the shoulders of men running to and fro in search of a place of safety.

History of the Providence Stage, 1762-1891, page 141