Racine, WI Opera House Fire, Dec 1884



RACINE, Wis., Dec. 28. - The Blake Opera House block was destroyed by fire at 1:30 o'clock this morning. The members of the Thompson "Beggar Student" Opera Company and a large number of guests were in the hotel connected with the theatre, and it was believed that all had escaped unhurt, but it was discovered later in the day that at least three persons had perished in the flames. They were Mr. and Mrs. Russell S. Glover, of New-York, both members of the opera company, and Mrs. S. A. Patrick, a chambermaid. Mrs. Glover was last seen running through the hallway screaming loudly, and it is believed that she became bewildered and sank down to suffocate. It is said that Mr. and Mrs. Glover were well and favorably known, socially, in the metropolis. Neither Mr. Glover nor the chambermaid were seen after the fire broke out, and it is thought they perished in their rooms.

A servant girl named Hicks was rescued from a third-story window. All the other members of the opera company lost their personal effects and barely escaped in their night clothes. Mr. Thompson places the company's loss at $6,000. Mrs. Catherine Doud, a wealthy widow, loses $20,000 worth of valuable property. The building was erected in 1882 at a cost of $100,000, and is insured for $48,000. It is owned by a Stock Company. Other losses are: Carr & Flannigan, proprietors of the hotel, $8,000; insurance, $5,461. Lena Johnson, restaurant, $2,500; insurance, $1,000. A. Duffy, saloon, $3,000; insurance, $1,500. Vilas Drug Store, $3,000; insurance, $1,500. A. Rausch, dry goods, $8,000; insurance, $4,000. Montgomery & Long, barbers, $1,000; no insurance. The total loss will be over $200,000. How the fire originated is not known, but an overheated steampipe is thought to have been the cause. The search for the bodies of the missing has been begun. The present company will not rebuild.

The New York Times, New York, NY 29 Dec 1884


Russell S. Glover, who is reported to have perished with his wife in the fire at Racine, Wis., was well known among comic opera singers in this city. He was about 38 years old, and was a son of Capt. Edward Glover, a retired seaman of Toms River, N. J., now living in this city. The old gentleman is over 80 years of age, and the news of his son's fate was not communicated to him for fear that he could not bear the shock. Mrs. Glover, the mother of the singer, was nearly prostrated by the news, but clung to a hope that the report might prove to be incorrect. This hope was sustained by the fact that Henry C. Glover, who manufactures remedies for canine diseases a No. 1,298 Broadway, received a telegram from a member of the company at Racine, stating that the bodies of his brother and Mrs. Glover had not been found, and there was still some hope that they had escaped.

Russell S. Glover was born in this city, and received a good education. He showed musical talent when a boy, and in early manhood became the tenor of St. James's choir. He was subsequently connected with several choirs in Episcopal churches. His first concert singing of any importance was on a tour with Emma Thursby. At the close of his engagement with her the "Pinafore" craze broke out, and Mr. Glover joined the army of church singers who embarked on the sea of comic opera. Previous to this, however, he sang for a short ime in a minstrel company. He had a sweet though not powerful tenor voice, which he used with considerable judgment, and, having a good personal appearance, he was successful as Ralph Rackstraw. He sang the part first with Gorman's Church Choir Pinafore Company, and afterward sang it one week at the Standard Theatre after the original cast had been taken to Chicago. He rejoined Gorman's company the following season, and when "La Mascotte" was brought out he was successful in the role of Prince Frederick.

In November last he was engaged to sing the tenor parts in a number of operas with the Thompson Opera Company. His principal role this season was Janitzka, the friend of Simonovitch, the "Beggar Student." The Thompson company rented the opera, and also the costumes, which were destroyed, from John A. McCaull. Mr. Glover was married eight years ago to Miss Jennie Davy, of Gardner, Mass. She is also reported to have met her death in the fire. When in this city Mr. and Mrs. Glover boarded at No. 130 West Forty-third-street. The father of the dead man is a man of means. Henry C. Glover, the brother, expressed his intention of starting for Racine last night. If the bodies are recovered they will be brought here for burial. Capt. Glover has nine children besides Russell, only one of whom, Louis, is on the stage. He is an actor, not a singer, although he began is career in comic opera.

A dispatch from Racine states that Manager Thompson, of the opera company, met Mrs. Glover in one of the halls on the upper floor of the burning building, and, in answer to her question as to what she had better do to be saved, he told her to go down stairs as soon as possible, as the whole building was in flames. Inestead of doing so she entered her room and began dressing.

The New York Times, New York, NY 30 Dec. 1884