HARPER'S WEEKLY
A
JOURNAL OF CIVILIZATION

New York, Saturday, April 14, 1866

scans from newspaper collection of
Ruth Adams-Battle

Transcribed by Dorothy Wiland


THE GREAT FIRE IN CINCINNATI

        We give on page 228 illustrations of the recent conflagration in Cincinnati, sketched on the spot by our artist, Mr. Waud. The fire broke out in Pike's Opera-house. This building-the most splendid structure of the kind in the West- was completely destroyed. Very fortunately the immense audience, congregated to hear "Midsummer Night's Dream," had dispersed before the accident occurred, otherwise we should have occasion to detail the horrible features of another human holocaust devoted to the Moloch of Flame.

        The first appearance of the fire—due, it is thought, by a gas explosion—was in the scenery back of the stage at 11:30 P.M. The Cincinnati Commercial thus describes the scene which followed:
        "In five minutes the flames had wrapped the whole magnificent interior of stage and auditorium, and burst through the rear portion of the roof. On the wings of the draught thus provided, the flames shot up to a great height and lapped over upon adjoining buildings. Soon huge masses of black smoke burst from the cornice of the Fourth Street front windows. At a quarter of twelve the scene was exciting in the extreme. The half square bounded by Fourth, Vine, Baker, and Walnut streets had a dome of luridly gleaming flames, through which columns of smoke shot up, and from which showers of sparks and bunches of flames floated upward and then descended upon the burning mass below. The dome and ceiling, with their gorgeous and artistic ornamentation, fell with the roof with a terrific crash, and there burst upward a dazzling light, blinding in its intensity. Slowly but surely the fire crept down through the various stories of the edifice—through offices and studios—steadily down to the magnificent stores, running the entire length of the building on the first floor of Fourth Street into the wealth of literature, the tens of thousands worth of books of CARROLL's store, the valuable stock of SUNNER'S sewing machines, the fine music-store of W. C. PETERS, and Philip Philip's pianos, the immense goods stored in the Adams Express rooms, the college rooms of BRYANT, STRATTON, & DeHAN's Commercial Institute, the editorial room of the National Union. HARPEL'S job printing establishment, with its valuable machinery, and all the dozen offices besides. From the real and west side of the Opera-house the flames marched with overwhelming strength to the extensive stables of the Adams Express Company and the buildings of the Cincinnati Daily Enquirer. The fall of a large mass of wall upon the rear of the Enquirer building insured its partial destruction, and soon the flames were communicated to the rear of the first and second floors, and rushing onward crept through the front windows, and told the story of their power to the fireman, who crept up to grapple with them. But with the same power already so terribly used the devouring flames wrapped the structure in their embrace, and the work of destruction was soon for advanced through the job rooms, where were stored nearly $100,00 worth of cuts; through job-presses, and composing-rooms of JONES & HART—all totally destroyed."

        The total loss is estimated at $1,751,000, over one-half of which was involved in the ruin of PIKE'S Opera-house.

        Our artist has sketched the scene presented by the ruins the day after the fire. An interesting feature of the sketch is the view given of the Chain-gang at work among the ruins.


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