The Great Baltimore Fire of 1904

Baltimore’s Great Fire Created As Well As Destroyed

Tour on Great Fire’s anniversary draws crowd

By Jay Hancock (The Baltimore Sun, 2/6/2011)

One hundred seven years after Harry met Martha at the edge of hell, two people who resulted from their encounter wanted to see the spot and imagine the flames — both thermal and romantic.

On Sunday Mary Maguire and her daughter, Colleen Phebus, walked and bused across 70 downtown blocks that were annihilated in the Great Baltimore Fire in 1904.

Maguire’s grandparents met during the conflagration, she said. There’s a terrific family story about how Harry Gessner saved Martha Skelton from distress — it was her hat that was the problem.

“And then a year later she married him,” said Maguire, who joined a fire anniversary tour along with about 40 others on a brilliant, warmish-for-February day.

Tour leader and Baltimore historian Wayne Schaumburg probably hadn’t heard that particular fire story. But he recounted dozens of others as he again re-created the two winter days that wiped out Baltimore’s central business district.

Continue reading “Baltimore’s Great Fire Created As Well As Destroyed” at The Baltimore Sun.

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Souvenir of the Baltimore fire, February 7th, 8th and 9th, 1904, as seen through a camera.

Photographs taken by Jack Hement (John C. Hemment) of Baltimore in the aftermath of the fire of 1904. This souvenir booklet includes a narrative that provides an overview of the events of the fire and a map that shows the areas of the city devastated by the fire .

View the souvenir booklet: The Baltimore Fire Through a Camera (Enoch Pratt Free Library)

View another souvenir booklet: Realistic Photos of the Baltimore Fire (Enoch Pratt Free Library)

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Baltimore Sun Photo Gallery: 1904 Baltimore City Fire

Click to view The Sun’s  “1904 Baltimore City Fire” Photo Gallery


Click to view the Baltimore Sun’s “Retro Baltimore” gallery of Great Baltimore Fire photos

‘Great fire’ of 1904 took several lives

Guardsmen, firefighters and other residents ended up dying from exposure in the chilly aftermath of the destructive blaze

By Jacques Kelly (The Baltimore Sun, 2/4/2011)

On a couple of long walks this week, I encountered some classic Baltimore Fire weather. This is a condition with rapid changes of wind and falling mercury. Heavy winds fanned the fire of Feb. 7 and 8, 1904, then a cold snap descended and added to the human misery.

Those volatile February winds overwhelmed the city’s ability to deal with the fire. The blaze jumped from downtown building to building, fanned by those changeable gusts. It was only through the assistance of many other fire companies, including those in New York, Washington and Philadelphia, that the flames were held in check at the Jones Falls.

I stood at the corner of Park and Lexington a few days ago and looked at the vacant land where the old Castleberg’s store stood. At the time of the fire, it was called J.W. Putts “Glass Palace” store, a fancy-wares emporium that offered china and other household items. The store exploded and shot glass everywhere.

Continue reading “‘Great fire’ of 1904 took several lives” at The Baltimore Sun.

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Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 Interactive Exhibit

Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Maryland Digital Cultural Heritage Project

Click image to enter interactive exhibit

Follow the “footprints” of the Fire online. This interactive exhibit shows how the fire spread and includes photographs, film footage and paintings. Digital content contributed by the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Fire Museum of Maryland, Maryland Historical Society, Library of Congress and the Baltimore County Public Library.

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