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December 24, 1909
GAS COMPLETES RUIN
OF RIALTO BUILDING.
FLAMES UNDER CONTROL WHEN
MAIN BREAKS, EXPLODING.
Firemen Grope Way to Street as
Third Roar Is Heard and Fire
Raging for Hours, Leaves
Only Ice-Coated Walls.
CHARRED WALLS OF THE RIALTO BUILDING, ALL THAT REMAINS OF A "FIRE TRAP."
Flames fed by a broken gas main destroyed the Rialto building at the southwest corner of Grand avenue and Ninth street at 3:30 o'clock yesterday morning. The building was erected in 1887 by Albert Marty, its present owner. The fire started in the basement and raged virtually unchecked for three hours until everything inflammable had been consumed. Nothing remains but the ruined and ice-coated walls. The loss is estimated at $300,000.
The building was one of the few remaining big Kansas City fire traps which are a terror to the fire department. Almost entirely of frame construction inside, it burned like tinder. In the language of Assistant Chief Alex Henderson, "not all the fire companies in Missouri could have stopped it."
The fire was noticed first by J. W. Johnson, a negro janitor, who had for many years been a fixture in the building. Johnson was sitting in one of the offices on the second floor at 3 o'clock in the morning, when he was startled by a rumbling sound like the report of a muffled cannon. He jumped from the chair in which he had been resting after several hours of hard work in policing the building, and bounded down the stairway.
He was confronted by dense smoke, and forgetting everything but that there were several person in the building who were in imminent danger of losing their lives, he bounded up the steps and shouted fire from each landing. In this manner he aroused Dr. J. W. Gaines, Dr. Robert O. Gross, Dr. Emil Thielman, Dr. Oliver F. Jones, Dr. A. Talbot, Dr. B. E. Jordan, Dr. J. B. Jones and Dr. Frank Jones. On the fifth floor Johnson came upon Charles R. Manley, senior physical examiner of the Y. M. C. A., in a semi-conscious condition, the result of striking his head against a post in his efforts to escape while groping his way through the dark, smoke-filled hallways. Johnson himself was beginning to feel the effects of the smoke, but not thinking of his own life in his efforts to save others half carried and dragged Mr. Manley down the stairway and out into the streets to safety. In the meantime, A. E. Perrine, night watchman in the building of McGowan, Small & Morgan, gas grantees, which is the first building south of the Rialto, discovered smoke and noticing the glare of flames which by that time had gained considerable headway in the trunk factory, hastened to a telephone and turned in the alarm.
FIRE FIGHT BEGINS.
The fire department soon was on the scene. The fire at first looked to be easy to extinguish. The firemen had the flames smothered, when a terrific explosion, caused by the breaking of a gas main, shot the flames up through the building to the top floors. At the time of this explosion Assistant Chief Alex Henderson and a squad of men were on the first floor of the building. The force of the explosion shook the entire building and as the flames were spreading to all parts of the structure, it was as much as a man's life was worth to stay inside, as another explosion could be expected at any time. While Chief Henderson and his men were extricating themselves from the trap, Captain Pelletier, with several men, were groping their way about in the basement of the Ninth street entrance. In what seemed to be hours, they emerged through the smoke and debris into the street. It was none too soon, as the third explosion occurred a few minutes later and had any of the firemen remained in the building they would have been buried beneath the floors and walls. By this time twenty companies had arrived and were throwing streams of water into the burning building from all sides, but it was of no use. The interior of the building was mostly wood and the outside wall kept the streams from getting to the center of the building, where the fire was worst.
The Rialto was the only old-time building of any consequence on Grand avenue. Albert Marty, the owner, is an active real estate and building man of Kansas City. He purchased the ground in 1886 and in 1887 constructed a five-story building on the corner. In 1889 he purchased forty-eight feet on the south side of the corner lot and the same year erected the south half of the building which burned yesterday morning.
The building was occupied by many prominent physicians and dentists, some of whom have been in the building twenty-five years.
"The number of occupants is in the neighborhood of 100," said Dr. H. D. McQuade, who had offices in the building for many years. "Many of us will be up against it for offices for some time, but I expect to contract for offices on the fifth floor of the Keith & Perry building tomorrow. Many of us received offers from other physicians to share their offices while looking for locations."
VALUED AT $125,000.
The building was valued at $125,000, although at the time of its erection it cost in the neighborhood of $200,000. That was more than twenty years ago. There was $81,500 insurance carried on the structure. The heaviest loser among the occupants was Hugo A. Brecklein, a druggist, occupying the first floor. Mr. Brecklein estimated his loss at $20,000, with $12,000 insurance.
J. H. Langan, son of John P. Langan, a grocer at 4601 Independence avenue, was walking north on Grand avenue yesterday morning when the fire started, and in attempting to awaken some of the men who were sleeping in the offices, he broke the glass in one of the doors, severely cutting his hand. But he saved the life of a man who was sleeping through all the disturbance, and succeeded in helping him to the street.
At least sixty physicians and twenty dentists lost their office furnishings and instruments in the Rialto building fire yesterday. The average loss for each tenant is said to have been about $700, and that only a small part of it was covered by insurance.
For years the Rialto has been the doctors' office building of Kansas City. Many of the most prominent physicians of the city were established there. Owing to the fact that in many buildings dentists and physicians are not allowed to rent offices, because the odors arising form the mixtures of medicines is objected to by other tenants, this building has long been recognized as the headquarters of men engaged in these two professions.
VALUABLE RELICS LOST.
About 1,000 specimens of prehistoric stone implements and two ancient violins were cherished treasures of Dr. A. H. Cordier, which were lost in the Rialto fire. Dr. Cordier occupied room 310, third floor.
A collector of prehistoric implements, Dr. Cordier, on trips to Mexico, Alaska, Ohio, Kentucky, Arkansas and through Missouri, got several thousand specimens, and he had about 1,000 of them on display in his offices. His is a collector of old violins and had two of these instruments, which he prized highly, in his rooms. Another relic which Dr. Cordier lost was the mounted head of a mountain sheep which he shot while on a hunting trip in British Columbia. Dr. Cordier's office had been in the Rialto building eighteen years.
DR. ANDERSON LUCKY.
A long distance survey of the Rialto ruins makes it appear that Dr. R. V. Anderson, a dentist, is the only tenant of the burned structure whose effects were not destroyed, and he recalls the fact that once before in a fire in the Rialto building he also was lucky.
Dr. Anderson's office has been in the building nearly eighteen years, ever since he began to practice, and some years ago ago fire broke out beneath his office, and his rooms, enveloped in smoke and flame, seemed doomed. The firemen, however, extinguished the blaze before his effects suffered any serious damage.
ORDINANCE NOT ENFORCED.
At the burning of the Rialto building yesterday morning the firemen were greatly handicapped by dangers from exploding gas, and they were in continual danger of being burned by flame of escaping gas. Had the building been equipped with a Siebens' shut-off gas valve it would have been possible for the firemen the moment they reached the fire to turn off the gas in the entire building and thereby lessen the danger occasioned by the escaping gas. The building code requires the installation of gas shut-off devices on all buildings, but for some reason the ordinance has never been enforced.
Labels: dentists, doctors, druggists, explosion, Fire, Grand avenue, grocers, Independence avenue, Ninth street, real estate, Rialto building, YMCA
November 30, 1909
DEPUTY USES PISTOL
TO SUBPOENA DOCTOR.
DR. CARBAUGH FINALLY GOES
WITHOUT COAT OR HAT.
Door Slammed in Officer's Face on
First Visit, He Obtains Attach-
ment in the Annie Owen
Grand Jury Case.
DR. EUGENE CARBAUGH.
Coatless, hatless and short winded as a result of being pushed up two flights of stairs in the criminal court building, Dr. Eugene Carbaugh, 614 Rialto building, was escorted yesterday afternoon into the office of Judge Ralph S. Latshaw.
Dr. Carbaugh was accompanied by Thomas Malone, a deputy sheriff. Carbaugh had been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury and had refused to come immediately. An attachment was issued by Judge Latshaw, and he was taken before the grand jury by force.
Dr. Carbaugh was subpoenaed to tell of the slugging of Annie Lee Owen, stenographer of the police board, during the special investigation last spring. Dr. Carbaugh treated the young woman at the time.
Deputy Sheriff Malone appeared in the office of Dr. Carbaugh at 10 o'clock yesterday morning.
AN ATTACHMENT ISSUED.
"I have a subpoena for you," he began.
The doctor was standing in the doorway to his inner office. He was dressing a patient's hand.
"You can't read anything to me now," said the doctor, slamming the door in the officer's face.
Malone returned to the criminal building. An attachment was immediately issued. Malone returned to the Rialto building.
Dr. Carbaugh was attending another patient, a man whose head had been cut by a falling window.
"I want to serve that subpoena," said the deputy sheriff.
"Didn't I tell you that I don't want that read to me now? Sit down and wait until I am through."
The doctor slammed the door; Malone stuck his foot in front of it, and with his shoulder pushed his way into the office. Malone pulled a gun from his pocket. Dr. Carbaugh dashed from his office, through the waiting room to the outer hallway. Malone pursued, waving his gun.
A young woman stenographer in an adjoining office, hearing the tumult, rushed to the hall to see what was the trouble.
"You haven't hidden behind skirts too often, you can't do it now," taunted the deputy sheriff, leveling his revolver at the doctor and badly frightened the stenographer. "Throw up your hands."
"Don't' shoot. I'll come," Carbaugh replied, advancing.
Dr. Carbaugh was in his shirtsleeves.
"Can't I get my coat and hat?"
"No, sir, you ran away from them once before, so I guess you don't care much about them," was the ultimatum of the deputy sheriff.
Dr. Carbaugh was marched from the building with neither coat nor hat and taken before the criminal judge.
"I think you have been humiliated enough," said Judge Latshaw. "If you care to, you may return to your office for your coat and hat before appearing in the grand jury room."
The doctor said he was ready to go into the jury room and did not care to return to his office. He was taken downstairs. Here it was found that the jury had summoned another witness and it would be some time before he could appear. The doctor returned for his hat and coat.
"I did not try to put off the deputy sheriff," said Dr. Carbaugh. "I assured him that I would testify once I had finished tending to my patients. The needs of my patients come before the needs of the grand jury."
Labels: criminal court, Dr Carbaugh, Judge Latshaw, Rialto building
September 9, 1907
A SHAVE CAUSED IT ALL.
Firemen Called to Scarritt Building
to Abate Cloud of Smoke.
There was a fire scare at the new Scarritt building, Ninth and Grand avenue, about 7:30 o'clock last night. It being Sunday evening, few of the tenants were in their offices. A still alarm was turned into fire headquarters. Outside the building there was nothing to account for the presence of the firemen. Janitors had told the few tenants when they had taken alarm when they saw the firemen enter the building that there was no danger.
It all came about form a janitor heating some water on a temporary stove in the basement preparatory to taking a shave. He had his razor laid out, the strop was hanging on a nearby nail, and all that was needed was hot water with which to make a lather. Finally the water on the stove reached the boiling point, and the janitor reached to take it off. The pan was hot, and he burned his fingers. He attempted to deposit the pan of water on a table as quickly as he could. As he leaped, his elbow struck the stove pipe, and disjointed a section of it. A moment before he had thrown in a fresh shovelful of coal, and dense, black smoke issued from the disjointed section of pipe. It filled the basement and began to curl in dense volumes up through the open ventilators in the sidewalk.
Someone in the Rialto building saw the smoke coming from the sidewalk, and turned in the alarm to fire headquarters. By the time the firemen reached there, the pipe had been put back in place, and most of the smoke had been blown form the building. The janitor heated another pan of water, and finished his Sunday shave.
Labels: Fire, Grand avenue, Ninth street, Rialto building, Scarritt building
May 9, 1907
ONLY ONE KNOWN DEAD IN UNIVERSITY FIRE, THOUGH IT IS BELIEVED RUINS HOLDS ANOTHER BODY
GROPING HIS WAY THROUGH SMOKE FILLED HALLWAYS, GEORGES DeMARE BECAME CONFUSED AND LEAPED OR FELL TO HIS DEATH
WOMAN CANNOT BE FOUND.
Miss Aurora Wittebart Believed
To Have Perished in the
WOMAN FALLS FROM LADDER.
Through Blinding Smoke Fight for Life Waged.
The University building, at the northtwest corner of Ninth and Locust streets, was totally destroyed by fire yesterday afternoon, causing a loss of $125,000 on the building and resulting in the death of Professor Georges De Mare, head of the art department in Central high school, who jumped or fell from a window on the fourth floor of the burning building.
The body of Miss Aurora Wittebart is supposed to be still in the ruins.
The loss to the various tenants cannot be known with any degree of definiteness for some time. With the exception of Montgomery Ward & Co., who occupied the first two floors, most of the occupants of the building were musicians and artists. The Radford pharmacy occupied the room at the corner of Ninth and Locust, and the Kindergarten Supply Company occupied the room immediately to the west of the pharmacy.
The fire caused more excitement than any which has occurred in Kansas City in years, owing to the ancient architecture of the building and the large number of women who had studios in the building, and the fact that several hundred girls were employed by Montgomery Ward & Co. There were many sensational escapes and displays of heroism, the most notable being the rescue of Miss S. Ellen Barnes, a music teacher, by Fireman Charles Braun.
She Died of Suffocation?
Death by suffocation is thought to have been the fate of Miss Aurora Wittebart, and artist who had an office in the fifth floor of the building, and was there when the fire started. She was last seen by Miss Barnes just as Professor de Mare jumped to his death. She is thought to be the woman Mr. Farrel saw with de Mare, as he groped his way through the smoke to safety. De Mare leaped to death from a window leading out of her studio.
Miss Wittebart is the daughter of a glass manufacturer who lives at Coffeyville, Kas. She was only 22 years of age, and had been studying art and painting in Kansas City for several months, and was to have been married to George Jackson, an employe of the Missouri-Kansas Telephone Company.
Last to See Miss Wittebart.
"Just before I learned that the building was on fire Professor de Mare was in my studio," said Miss Helen Barnes last night. "We were talking about music and art, and finally he arose to go, saying that he was expecting a visitor in his studio. He walked to the door and opened it. A gust of black smoke burst through the open door, and it was then we realized that the building was on fire. Professor de Mare called to me to get out of the building immediately and started down the hall. I started to follow, but soon realized that I could not find my way through the dense smoke. I went to a window from where I saw Miss Wittebart standing at a window on the floor below. She was near the rear fire escape and I supposed she had descended. Professor de Mare had opened a window and was preparing, I thought, to mount the landing of a fire escape. I returned immediately to my studio and, raising a window, made a feeble attempt to call for help. the smoke strangled me, and I threw my purse out to attract the people below. That was needless, though, for I had been seen by the firemen, and at that time ladders were being rapidly placed to reach me. I saw the fireman who rescued me climbing upward. There was determination in his manner, and I seemed to realize when I looked upon his smoke-begrimed, upturned face that he would surely reach me. It was his determined look that strengthened me and seemed to give me new courage."
Cleveland Laid Cornerstone.
The building was constructed nearly twenty years ago for the Y. M. C. A., Grover Cleveland laying the cornerstone in 1887 during his first term as president. It cost $112,000, and after the Y. M. C. A. was compelled to relinquish it the building passed into the possession of the Pepper estate, being in turn sold to the Sunny Slope Realty Company. There was an insurance of $72,000 on the structure.
The first alarm was turned in a few minutes before 3 o'clock by O. W. Hoover, proprietor of the Kindergarten Supply House, next door west from the drug store on the corner. Mr. Hoover heard the girls employed by Montgomery Ward & Co. hurrying down the stairs and out of the building and soon afterwards smelled the smoke. He called up the fire department and was informed that no alarm of fire had yet been turned in. Mr. Hoover thereupon turned in the alarm.
Dr. William West, formerly a fireman and later a police surgeon, who ha an office in the Rialto building, saw the smoke pouring form the building and was one of the first physicians to reach the scene of the fire. He attended Fireman Braun, who rescued Miss Barnes, and did valiant and effective service throughout the fire in extending first aid to the injured.
300 Girls in a Panic.The fire started in a pile of 8,000 pounds of hemp rope, which was stored in the pit of the building. Until recently the Kansas City Athletic Club had occupied the premises and it had made the basement and main floor a single room. Around this room ran a balcony. Montgomery Ward & Co. were occupying the room and in it they had a pile of hemp stored for immediate use. Without any warning whatever smoke began issuing from it and a crackling sound was heard. There were some of the 300 girls the mail order house employed in the Kansas City general offices, within two feet of the rope, and scores of them within sight. Immediately on hearing the sound of the crackling and seeing the little jets of smoke at the same moment, the girls began to tell each other there was a fire, and precipitously prepared to leave the place. O. Q. Massey and J. M. Miller, clerks, at the same time made a rush for the starting fire and tried to trample it out. Despite their efforts the fire gained on them, jets coming from twenty parts of the pile. A rumor that someone had stepped on a match, igniting it, is completely discredited by the evidence given by a dozen or more clerks who were sitting in the pit where the hemp blazed.
While Henderson, Massey and Miller were trying to stamp the fire out, Mrs. Lucille Baker, in charge of the squad in that particular room, began getting her forty subordinates out of the place. Manager W. P. Walker had 200 girls at work in what once was the swimming pool. Their only avenue of escape was to walk toward the burning hemp and up a temporary staircase. In the most amazing manner, the manager succeeded in getting the clerks to stand perfectly still until they could march out of the place in twos, and in that manner he got every one of the 200 out of the pit and to the street level without the slightest confusion. There was every possibility of a jam at the staircase, which could only have resulted in a great loss of life.
Labels: cornerstones, death, doctors, Fire, Kansas City Athletic Club, Locust street, Ninth street, retailers, Rialto building, YMCA
January 15, 1907
DISROBES IN DOCTOR'S OFFICE.
Young Woman, Believed to Be
Demented, Surprised Physician
A young woman, believed to be demented, entered the reception room of Dr. J. D. Griffith, 520 Rialto building, about 5:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon and removed most of her clothing. She was found there by Dr. Walter C. Klein, Dr. Griffith's assistant. He did not know that any one was in the room and was preparing to leave when he found her.
The woman was taken to the general hospital She gave the name of Myrtle Moore and her home on Washington street. Dr. J. P. Henderson, assistant city physician, diagnosed her case as emotional insanity.
Labels: doctors, general hospital, mental health, Rialto building, Washington street
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