Codes & Standards

Our Lady of the Angels School Fire: 50 Years Later

Issue 12 and Volume 161.

BY ADAM GROVES On December 1, 1958, the Our Lady of the Angels School in Chicago, Illinois, was destroyed by fire. Ninety-two students and three nuns died as a result of the fire; dozens more suffered serious injuries while escaping the burning building. Investigations into the fire revealed inadequate fire protection and safety systems within the school, which contributed to the loss of life.1 The fire received international attention and prompted a series of major changes and enhancements to the fire safety codes and regulations governing U.S. schools and other public buildings. THE PARISH AND SCHOOL During the 1950s, Our Lady of the Angels parish was one of the largest in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. In addition to serving more than 4,500 families, the parish operated a school for more than 1,600 students, grades kindergarten through eight. More than 1,400 second- through eighth-grade students attended classes in the…

Subscribe to unlock this content

Subscribe Now