Souvenir Book of the Great Chelsea Fire April 12, 1908 online

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APRIL 12, 1908.

Containing Thirty-Four Views of the Burned
District and Prominent Buildings.

Also a Descriptive Sketch.

Copyright, 1908, By The N. E. Paper & Stationery Co.
Manufacturers of Souvenir Post Cards and View Books,
Boston and Ayer, Mass.

The Great Chelsea Fire

On Sunday April 12, 1908, at about 11 o'clock A. M., an alarm was rung in
for a fire in the works of the Boston Blacking Co. on West 3rd St., near
the Everett line. The fire department responded immediately and succeeded
in putting out the fire with but very little damage, but the forty-mile
gale that was blowing at the time carried sparks from the fire to nearby
houses, and soon all the frame buildings in that vicinity were ablaze. The
fire then traveled with great rapidity in an easterly direction, and
despite the best efforts of the department, was soon beyond control. Aid
was called in from nearby cities, but even the largely increased force was
unable to cope with the fire, and could only endeavor to keep it within
certain limits. So intense was the heat that buildings made of solid
granite crumbled, and were entirely destroyed. The fire could not be
checked in its easterly course, and in a short time had traveled across
the city and was stopped only by the Mystic River at the East Boston line.
Almost the entire business section on Broadway was destroyed, the northern
boundary of the fire on Broadway being the Boston & Maine R. R. tracks,
and the southern boundary Chelsea Square. Between these two points on
Broadway almost all the retail business of the city was done. Among the
more prominent public buildings that were destroyed are the City Hall,
Y. M. C. A. Building, Odd Fellows Building, Chelsea Savings Bank and
County Trust Co. buildings. The number of buildings destroyed is estimated
at about 1500, while between 10,000 and 12,000 people were rendered

No sooner had the awful havoc that the fire had wrought become known, than
relief funds were started all over the country, and many of the cities and
towns in Massachusetts gave substantial amounts for the relief of the
stricken city.

Within two weeks after the fire, Lee Higginson & Co., who were financial
agents for the official relief committee had received almost $300,000, and
many thousands of dollars more were given directly by employers of the
burnt-out families, and by fraternal organizations such as Knights of
Columbus, Knights of Pythias, Odd Fellows, Elks, Eagles and many others,
almost all of which established relief headquarters at once. The central
relief committee immediately opened relief stations at the new High School
building and at Lincoln Hall, and thousands were fed at these two places

By Tuesday, great quantities of clothing had been received for
distribution, and a receiving station was established at Keany Sq. Boston,
where contributions of clothing and household goods were received.

On Wednesday a large number of people were furnished with cooking utensils
and mattresses, and by the end of the week thousands of sets of
bed-clothing had been distributed.

In response to a call from the relief committee, hundreds of automobiles
offered their services in delivering goods to the homeless, and the work
of relief was greatly aided by this means.

[Illustration: Chelsea Square looking north up Broadway, showing Chelsea
Trust Co. Building in centre, and Odd Fellows Building at right.]

[Illustration: Stebbins Block, showing Knights of Columbus Hall, the
southern limit of the fire on Broadway.]

[Illustration: Looking up Broadway from Third Street. The heart of the
Business District.]

[Illustration: Everett Avenue from Broadway showing what remains of
Chelsea's most congested district.]

[Illustration: Looking toward Everett Ave. from rear of Knights of
Columbus Hall, showing Congregational and Universalist Churches and
Chelsea Trust Co. Building.]

[Illustration: Corner Post of Granite Block, Corner of Fourth Street and
Broadway, All that remains of a magnificent stone building.]

[Illustration: Looking down Everett Ave. from Chestnut Street, another
view of the congested district.]

[Illustration: Odd Fellows Building, Chelsea Sq. The small view shows the
building as it appeared before the fire.]

[Illustration: Cherry Street from Everett Avenue.]

[Illustration: Bellingham Hill from Chester Ave. This hill was the site of
many fine residences.]

[Illustration: All that remains of the residential section on Chester

[Illustration: Looking up Chestnut Street from Third, showing Universalist
Church and Central Congregational Church in the distance.]

[Illustration: Ruins of the Chelsea Savings Bank Building, cor. Broadway
and Congress Ave.]

[Illustration: Bellingham Station, Broadway.]

[Illustration: Ruins of the Williams School, Walnut Street.]

[Illustration: Ruins of City Hall and City Hall School, Central Avenue.]

[Illustration: Ruins of the Shurtleff School, Essex Street. This was a
magnificent granite structure, but the stone of which it was built was
crumbled by the great heat of the fire.]

[Illustration: Wreck of a Lynn Fire Engine, which had to be abandoned.]

[Illustration: Ruins of St. Rose Catholic Church, Broadway, Chelsea, Mass.
After the big fire of April 12, 1908.]

[Illustration: Universalist Church, corner Fourth and Chestnut Sts. The
small view shows it as it looked before the fire.]

[Illustration: Central Congregational Church, corner Fifth and Chestnut
Sts. The small view shows it as it looked before the fire.]

[Illustration: First Baptist Church, Central Ave. Before and after the

[Illustration: First Baptist Church and City Hall, Central Ave.]

[Illustration: St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Hawthorne Street, which was
entirely destroyed.]

[Illustration: Y. M. C. A. Building, Bellingham Square, entirely

[Illustration: Fitz Public Library, destroyed in the Big Fire.]

[Illustration: Birdseye View of Chelsea, Mass. from Powderhorn Hill. The
entire district shown in this view with the exception of the houses in the
immediate foreground was entirely destroyed in the Big Fire.]

[Illustration: Chelsea Square. The nearer end of this square marks the
southern limit of the fire on Broadway.]

[Illustration: Unitarian Church, Hawthorne Street.]

[Illustration: Soldiers Monument at Union Park. It was to this Park that
many of the burnt out families fled with their belongings.]

A list of the more prominent buildings destroyed by the fire is given
below, although this does not by any means include a complete list of the
public or semi-public structures that were burned.


Central Congregational Church
St. Rose Catholic
First Universalist
First Unitarian
First Baptist
Polish Catholic
Bellingham M. E.
St. Luke's Episcopal
Several Synagogues


Williams Grammar
Frank B. Fay
City Hall
Shawmut St.


City Hall
Y. M. C. A. Building
Odd Fellows Building
Chelsea Trust Co.
Chelsea Saving Bank
Granite Block
State Armory
Public Library
County Savings Bank



Online LibraryAnonymousSouvenir Book of the Great Chelsea Fire April 12, 1908 → online text (page 1 of 1)