When the Gong Rings
A Fire History of Charleston, Illinois
 

XII                                   Click Here to Return to the Contents Page


Also read:  Intro-p.13 


Great Fires of Charleston, Illinois--
                                      A List Compiled by Chief Melvin H. Taylor

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          Viewers of this site around the world would not be particularly interested in the fire history of a small Central Illinois city, but Charleston maybe represents many small college towns in America.  It has its castle (Old Main) at the Eastern Illinois University campus.  It has its large courthouse.  Somehow Charleston always had political clout.  In the country near Charleston was the home of Abe Lincoln's parents, Thomas and step mother Sarah Bush.  Charleston is a very old town named after Charles Morton.  The fire department in Charleston was formally organized in 1875.  Many big fires plagued the community.  Nearby Mattoon would often send many a citizen/spectator over on the Interurban to view the events.  Even some extra hose from the bigger Mattoon Fire Department would be sent over.  Here's some of the fires that hit Charleston.

  • 1892-- The Wing Flour Mill and Kizer Oil Company
  • 1898-- Central School or College (Charleston High School)
  • 1902-- The North side of Whiskey Row (Monroe St. between 5th & 6th)
  • 1911-- Hariman Brothers Broom Corn Warehouse at 5th & Railroad; the Big Four Depot; grain elevator; the Beanery; and the Clover-Leaf Depot (practically the whole north end of Charleston)
  • 1914-- The Old Opera House on 6th Street near the square
  • 1922-- Livery Stable at 5th and Madison and several adjoining structures
  • 1923-- Boyer Ice Cream Factory; Old Armory Building in which the Rardin Daily News was located; this building was famous because a reception was held for Abe Lincoln in it
  • 1924-- Charleston Grain elevator
  • 1926-- Hall Grocery Store; North Bails Flats
  • 1927-- Lawes Hotel; Charleston High School (yes again!)
  • 1942-- Charleston Grain Elevator (burns again)
  • 1944-- Duck Pin bowling alley at 6th and Madison
  • 1949-- Residential fire at residence, wife and two children killed
  • 1950-- Pump factory
  • 1951-- Pilgrim Holiness church at 4th and Monroe
  • 1952-- Alexander's Department Store (7th and Jackson) on the square
  • 1953-- Don Cole Fire
  • 1959-- John Boyd Implement 5th and Monroe
  • 1960-- Squire Clothing Shop Fire (on square)
  • 1962-- Several small fires in same day and Dorite building; W.L. Charleston building in North end
  • 1963-- Rardin Building (6th and Jackson); Lanman's Insurance, Witt's Paint & Wallpaper,
  • 1967-- Walker's Supermarket (University & Lincoln)
  • 1972-- Sportsman's Club & antique car storage area (on 7th St. near the square)
  • 1973-- Gano's Welding Supply (lots of explosions);  Coles County Fairgrounds horse stables (several purebred horses lost)
  • 1973-- Henry Taitt residence (rural fire which set in motion the formation of Lincoln Fire Protection District)
  • 1976-- Adam's Memorial business (W. of  Charleston)
  • 1979-- Regency Apartments near the EIU campus on 9th St.; 4th Street Rouse Apartments-- 3 EIU students killed in blaze
  • 1980-- Patty Fulk residential fire at 409 Madison, Jamie Hutson saved
  • 1981-- Charleston Grain Elevator (burned, but not total loss)
  • 1982-- Blagg Furniture Fire, 714 Jackson St.
  • 1983-- Apartment house fire at 419 4th St.
  • 1984-- Apartment fire above Mother's Tavern on Whiskey Row, 506 Monroe St.