The Burning of the Church of the Messiah, New York

The Burning of the Church of the Messiah, New York

On the cover of this issue of FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING is shown the fire in progress which very nearly destroyed the Church of the Messiah recently. The church is situated at the corner of Thirty-fourth Street and Madison Avenue, New York City. The fire started, presumably, from defective electric wiring in the organ loft, at 3:30 p.m. Just as a funeral was about to take place, pallbearers being in the act of carrying the casket from the hearse into the church, an usher gave the alarm, and the body was taken to another church in the vicinity. As the building stood in a densely populated district, second and third alarms quickly followed the first, but notwithstanding the efforts of the firemen, commanded by Deputy Chief Martin, the flames attacked all parts of the structure and threatened to spread to adjoining property. The men entered the church at first, but the heat grew so intense that they were forced to leave it, and Deputy Chief Martin ordered the men on the roof also to withdraw. They obeyed not a minute too soon, for they had barely reached the street when the flames shot through the roof. Just at that time, a water tower arrived and sent a powerful stream on the roof, which soon brought the fire under control. A fireman was struck by a piece of heavy glass from a window, and an artery severed. He was treated immediately and hurried to a hospital. The ceiling and pews were destroyed, as was also the organ, which was valued at $20,000. Many valuable stained glass memorial windows and oil paintings were also ruined. The church was founded in 1825 as the Second Congregational Unitarian Church of New York, but its name was changed in 1839 to the Church of the Messiah. It retained that name until 1914, when it was again changed, becoming the Community Church of New York.

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