Reading Room: 1897 Fire

On October 4, 1897, a fire was discovered at 7:00 p.m. in a small closet at Foundry Church. It caused a lot of excitement and attracted a large crowd of people. If it had not been for the prompt and efficient work of the fire department, the church might have been destroyed, however, the fire was confined to one part of the building.

Mr. R. H. Willett, a church trustee, was walking down G Street when he saw smoke coming out of the church. He was not too confined at first. On entering the church he found it full of smoke. Willett then hurried to a store on the opposite corner to give the alarm, but someone had already called the fire department.

In a few minutes Number 2 Engine Company and Fire Chief Parris responded. A single line of hose was run into the church; firemen with axes and fire extinguishers quickly put out the fire.

A tinsmith had been working on the roof that afternoon, putting a new top on the chimney. It was thought that a spark from his furnace dropped into the closet somehow and ignited the paper and old books that were stored there. After smoldering for some time, the fire broke out and spread to all parts of the closet and the roof of the gallery.

The silver communion service which was stored in the closet was badly damaged and partially melted. It had to be replaced. The offering plates were only slightly damaged. Damage to the building amounted to about $200.00.


This article, originally titled "A Fire at Foundry" is provided and used with permission from Papers of Homer Calkin, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.