Notorious Chicago | Iroquois Theater | Eddie Foy
The day was Monday, November 27, 1903, when the brand new Iroquois Theater, an “absolutely fireproof” theatre, opened in Chicago at 24-28 Randolph (between State and Dearborn streets). On Wednesday, December 30th, the hit musical, “Mr. Bluebeard” starring Eddie Foy was enjoying its sixth week of a successful run as the Iroquois Theatre’s first production. Pictured on the bottom is the cover of the Programme.
Chicago Tribune, December 31, 1903
Five hundred and seventy-one lives were destroyed by fire in the Iroquois Theater in the fifteen minutes between 3:15 and 3:30 o’clock yesterday afternoon. Of the dead, less than 100 were identified last night.
Of the unidentified nearly all were so badly burned that recognition was impossible. Only by trinkets and burned scraps of wearing apparel will the bodies of hundreds be made known to their families.
March from Deadhouse to Deadhouse.
All night long a horror chained but resolutely persistent throng of those whose friends and relatives were numbered among the missing lifted blanket after blanket in the search of fear through the morgues of the city.
Not since the Fire of 1871, when 250 were killed, has Chicago been mantled by such a universal tragedy; never has it received a blow so instantaneously shocking.
This frightful thing was over before the city knew it happened; the news in its wild spread left paralysis behind.
“Mr. Bluebeard” was being performed in the theater. An audience not only of unusual size but of unusual composition was listening to it. It was the matinée audience of the mid-holiday season.
Children and Women the Victims.
Only once in a year could such an audience have gathered; only once in all the twelve-month could so many children have been collected within the walls of the theater.
And on this one occasion the sacrifice to flames was demanded. There were men in the audience; there were men in the galleries, from which the greatest tribute of death was demanded, but they were few in proportion to the children. There were women, too. Some of them died with their arms around their children. Probably the proportion of men in the theater might have been one to ten women and children; of women one to four children or young people.
After fifty-five hours had passed since the Iroquois fire, only twenty-one bodies remained unidentified out of the total number of 582 victims. The showing at midnight:
Death’s Harvest in the Galleries.
There were 2,000 persons or thereabouts in the theater. Of that number 1,740 had seats. The rest were massed in the rear of the seats on the main floor and the first balcony.
In the galleries, even the rear seats of the second gallery, were seated persons who ordinarily would have not been content with anything less than parquet seats. They were mothers, aunts, and older sisters, taking the children for an outing which fitted only to this one afternoon; young fellows from college treating their visiting chums to the theater; school girls out with their young friends for the same kind of a lark. A number of parties consisted of trios of girls under 15 years of age.
Such was the human material provided on one side of the curtain.
On the other were 300 members of the extravaganza company. They were dressed in flimsy garments, trailing with gauze, veils of death once the breath of fire swept over them.
Fire Curtain a Delusion.
Between audience and performers was the curtain line, down with an asbestos fire curtain could have fallen a second after the alarm was given, confining the fire to the stage.
The curtain never fell.
The fire leaped from the stage as if from a furnace door. The draft from the opened stage exits behind drove it across the auditorium and upward to the galleries. Over a carpet of the dead it forced its own way through the chimney of the alley doors on the galleries.
The newest theater in Chicago, the playhouse declared to be fireproof from dressing rooms to capstone, burned till the stage was a steel skeleton and its wrecked interior a charnel house.
The coroner today will begin laboriously to try and learn who, if any one, was to blame; the building commissioner will endeavor to learn if the building was overcrowded, and if all the ordinances were obeyed.
And the people for their part will have funerals to attend. And there will be hearses at these funerals. The liverymen strikers will not molest them.
Why Curtain Failed to Work.
The only thing plain last night was that the asbestos curtain did not fall. The flyman of the theater, Charles Johnson, said that for some time past it had been the practice of the theater to have the curtain high at night so as to permit a good view for the aerial ballet.
“They attempted to drop the curtain,” he said, “but it would not drop below the height it had been fixed at,”
Manager Will J. Davis was not at the theater. The report made to him was that the curtain caught when a little way down and bulged out under the force of the terrific draft.
“Men tried to pul it down,” he said. “It would not come.”
Absent from All Important Post.
Another report in wide circulation was that the assistant stage manager, who had immediate charge of the curtain, was not on the stage, but in front. He, it was declared, could have touched an electric button which would have operated the sheet in a second. Without him, according to this story, the attempt was made clumsily to run the curtain down by hand, an attempt that failed.
The fire started while the double octet was staging “In the Pale Moonlight,” Eddie Foy, off the stage, was making up for his “elephant” specialty.
On the audience’s left—the stage right—a line flashed straight up. It was followed by a noise as of an explosion. According to nearly all accounts, however, there was no real explosion, the sound being that of the fuse of the “spot” light which is turned on a pivot to follow and illuminate the progress of the star across the stage.
“Spot” Electric Light the Cause.
This light caused the fire. On this all reports of the stage folk agree. As to manner, accounts differ widely. R. M. Cummings, the boy in charge of the light, said last night that it was short circuited.
Stage hands, as they fled from the scene, however, were heard to question one another. “Who kicked over the light?” The light belonged to the “Bluebeard” company.
Just a Little Flame at First.
The beginning of the disaster was leisurely. The stage hands had been fighting the line of wavering flame along the muslim fly border for some seconds before the audience knew anything was the matter.
The fly border, made of muslin and saturated with paint, was tinder to the flames.
Attack Blaze with Sticks.
The stage hands grasped the long sticks used in their work. They forgot the hand grenades that are supposed to be on every stage.
“Hit it with the sticks!” was the cry. “Beat it out!” “Beat it out!”
The men struck savagely. A few yards of the border fed upon the stage and was stamped to charred fragments.
That sight was the first warning the audience had. For a second there was a hush. The singers halted in their lines; the musicians ceased to play.
Then the murmur of fear ran through the audience. There were cries from a few, followed by the breaking, rumbling sound of the first step toward the flight of panic.
One Man Keeps His Head.
At that moment a strange, grotesque figure appeared upon the stage. It wore tights, a loose upper garment, and the face was one-half made up. The man was Eddie Foy, chief comedian of the company, the clown, but the only man who kept his head.
Before he reached the center of the stage he had called out to a stage hand; “Take my boy, Bryan, there! Get him out! There by the stage way!”
The stage hand grabbed the little chap. Foy saw him dart with him to safety as he turned his head.
Freed of parental anxiety, he faced the audience.
“Keep quiet!” he shouted. “Quiet.”
“Go out in order!” he shouted. “Don’t get excited!”
Between exclamations he bent over toward the orchestra leader.
Orchestra Plays in Face of Death.
“Start an overture!” he commanded. “Start anything. For God’s sake, play, play, play, and keep playing.”
The brave words were as bravely answered. Gillea raised his wand, and the musicians began to play. Netter than any one in the theater they knew their perm. They could look slantingly up and see that the 300 sets of the “Bluebeard” scenery all were ablaze. Their faces were white, their hands trembled, but they played, and played.
Foy still stood there, alternately urging the frightened people to avoid a panic and spurring the orchestra on. One by one the musicians dropped fiddle, horn, and other instruments and stole away.
Iroquois Theater at the time of the fire
“Clown” Proves a Hero.
Finally the leader and Foy were left alone. Foy gave one glance upward and saw the scenery all aflame. dropping brands fell around him, and then he fled—just in time to save his own life. The “clown” had proved himself a hero.
The curtain started to come down. It stopped, it swayed as from a heavy wind, and then it “buckled” near the center.
All Hope Lost for Gallery.
From that moment no power short of omnipotent could have saved the occupants of the upper gallery.
The coolness of Foy, of the orchestra leaders and of other players, who begged the audience to hold itself in check, however, probably saved many lives on the parquet floor. Tumultuous panic prevailed, but the maddest of it—save in the doomed gallery—was at the outskirts of the ground floor crowd.
Those in greatest danger through proximity to the stage did not throw their weight against the mass ahead. Not ,amy died on the first floor, proof of the contention that some restraint existed in this section of the audience.
Women were trod under foot near the rear; some were injured. The most at this point, however, were rescued by the determined rush of the policemen at the entrance and of the doorkeeper and his assistants.
Some Exits Are Closed.
The theater had thirty exits. All were opened before the fire reached full headway, but some had to be forced open. Only one door at the Randolph street entrance was open, the others being locked, according, it appears, to custom.
From within and without these doors were shattered in the first two minutes after the fire broke out—by the theater employees, according to one report, by the van of fleeting multitude and the first of the rescuers from the street, according to another.
The doors to the exits on the alley side, between Randolph and Lake streets, in one or more instances, are declared by those who escaped to have been either frozen or rusted. They opened to assaults, but priceless seconds were lost.
Theatrical People All Escape.
Before this time Foy had run back across the stage and reached the alley. With him fled the members of the aerial ballet, the last of the performers to get out. The aerialists owed their lives to the boy in charge of the fly elevator. They were aloft, in readiness for their flight above the heads of the audience. The elevator boy ran his cage up even with the line of fire, took them in, and brought them safely down.
As Foy and the group reached the outer doorway the stage loft collapsed and tons of fire poured over the stage.
The lights went out in the theater with this destruction of the switchboard and all stage connections. One column of flame rose and swished along the ceiling of the theater. Then this awful illumination also was swallowed up. None may paint from personal understanding that which took place in that pit of flame lit darkness. None lives to tell it.
To those still caught in the structure the light of life went out when the electric globes grew dark.
In spite of the terrible form of their destruction, it came swiftly enough to shorten pains. This at least was true of those who died in the second balcony, striving to reach the alley exits abreast of them.
Dead Piled Six Feet Deep.
Six and seven feet deep they were found, not packed in layers but jumbled and twisted in the struggle with one another.
Opposite the westernmost exit of the balcony—on the alley—was a room in the Northwestern University building (the old Tremont house), where painters were working, wiping out the traces of another fire.
They heard the sound of the detonation of the fuse; they heard the rush of feet toward the exit across the way. Out on the iron stairway came a man, pushed by a power behind, himself crazy with fear. He would have run down the iron fire escape, but flames burst out of the exit beneath and wrapped itself around the iron ladder.
Bridge the Alley with Planks.
“A ladder!” shouted one of the painters, “Run it out.” It was run out. The man started to cross. The ladder slipped on the frosty window casing. Its burden was precipitated down on the icy ground.
The first of the arriving firemen picked up the broken form. The body was the first taken to a morgue.
Women prepared to jump from the platform.
“Wait!” cried the painters. “We have planks.” Three wide planks were thrust across the alley. The painters sank to their knees to anchor them. “Come on!” they shouted.
Little Girl First Across.
Hortense Lang, 10 years old, dragging her sister Irene, 11 years old, was the first to cross.
She was hysterical when she dropped inside the sheltering room.
“I was going to jump,” she sobbed, “but I thought of my mother. I just grabbed sister by hand and waited for the planks. I don’t know how we crossed.”
The mother, Mrs. L. Lang, 580 Forty-fifth street, also was in the theater, on the first floor. She got out safely, and an hour afterwards found her children in the Tremont house. The reunited three sat with arms around another for another hour.
Die with Safety in Sight.
Just twelve persons escaped across the plankway. The twelfth was pursued by a pillar of fire which dashed itself against the wall of the university building.
The steel platform was packed with women and children. They died right there. The bodies of some fell over into the alley. From within the bodies others fell part way out of the aperture.
The helpless watchers, peering through the smoke, could see the heaps of the dead between the seats and along the outside of the gallery.
Firemen crossed the gangway as soon as the tongue of flame drew back and climbed over the ghastly wall to direct the stream of water inward and downward.
Floor Plan of The Iroquois
“Anybody Alive Here?” No Answer.
They entered too soon. The tongue again licked upwards. The fighters and rescuers retreated stubbornly, but they were driven back.
Marshall Campton was in command of the firemen. He saw that the gallery must be for a time abandoned. The forms of women and children were all about him and his men. No movement was perceptible, but he knew that the living might be buried under the dead.
“Is there any living person here?” the marshal shouted again and again.
The cry echoed through the silent place and no voice answered.
Once more he shouted, “If any one here is alive, groan or make some sound. We’ll take you out.”
Not a Moan Is Heard.
Not an arm waved in the mounds about him; no moan was heard.
“We will have to get back,” ordered the marshal, reluctantly. As they defiled over the planks the fire once more billowed to the windows. But this time no new victims. It needed not to make its work more thorough.
Fire Checked, Rescue Starts.
When the firemen reentered the theater from the alley side they were not again repulsed. They played upon the fire, now largely confined to the stage, long enough to permanently check it, and then all but the men needed to hold the lines of hose turned their attention to the labor of clearing the balcony of the bodies.
While they worked from the north scores of citizen rescuers were bearing corpses out through the Randolph street entrance. From this entrance also were borne the bulk of the injured.
There was no need for physicians to inspect the bodies taken out over the gangway.Scores of injured were cared for in the Northwestern University building, but they were persons brought in from the ground floor.
Bodies Not Recognizable.
The bodies dragged across the planks for the most part unrecognizable. Ropes were passed around the feet and one set of men pulled while one man steadied the head of the corpse. Once across, however, the bodies were cared for with tender pity. Blankets were thrown over them and they were laid in rows on the floor and on long tables. Not until 7 o’clock was the last body taken from the theater by this route. Toward the end the bodies were sent to the morgues as soon as they were received in the university building.
Meets Death in Many Ways.
The postures in which death was met showed how the end had come to many.
A husband and wife were locked so tightly in one another’s arms that the bodies had to be taken out together. A woman had thrown her around a child in a vain effort to save her. Both were burned beyond recognition.
The sight of the children’s bodies broke down the composure of the most restrained of the rescuers. As little form after form was brought out the tears ran down the faces of policemen, firemen, and bystanders. Small hands were clenched before childish faces—fruitless attempts at protection from the scorching blast.
Children Saved from Mutilation.
Most of the children will be recognized. Fate allowed that thin shadow of mercy. They fell beneath their taller companions. The flames reached them, but they were face downward, other forms were above them, and generally their features were spared.
In Death They Save Others.
The persons crowded off the fire escape platform, and those who jumped voluntarily by their own death saved persons on the lower floor from injury. Scores jumped from the exits at the first balcony, the first to death and injury, the ones behind to comparative safety on the thick cushion of the bodies of those who preceded them and who fell from the balcony above. Other hundreds from the main floor jumped on to the same cushion—an easy distance of six feet—without any injury.
When the firemen came they spread nets, but the nets were black, and in the gloom they could not be seen. They saved few lives—argument for the use of white nets hereafter.
No Alarm Box at Theater.
The chain of mishaps surrounding the catastrophe extended to the fire alarm. There was no fire alarm box in front of the theater as at other theaters. A stage hand ran down the alley to South Water Street and by word of mouth turned in a “still” alarm to No. 13. The box alarm did not follow for some precious minutes. At least four minutes were lost in this way.
Few in Balcony Escaped.
Of the 900 persons seated in the first and second balconies, few if any escaped without serious injury.
So fiercely the fire burned during the short time in which hundreds of lives were sacrificed that the velvet cushions of the balcony seats were burned bare.
The crowds fought so in their efforts to escape that they tore away the iron railings of the balconies, leaping upon the people below.
Hours in Carrying Out Dead.
From 3 o’clock, when the alarm was sent in, to 7:30 o’clock, when the doors of the theater were closed. the charred, torn, and blistered bodies were carried from the building at a rate of four a minute. One hundred were taken out across the plank way.
Many blankets filled with fragments of human bodies taken from the building.
Hundreds Beyond Recognition.
Hundreds of bodies were taken from the building, their clothing gone, their faces charred beyond recognition. Under pretense of serving as rescuers ghouls gained entrance to the theater and robbed dead and dying in the midst of the fire.
Men fell on their knees and prayed. Men and women cursed. A rush was made for the Rndolph street exits. In their fear the crowds forgot the many side exits, and rushed for the doors at which they entered the theater. Little boys and girls were thrown to one side by their stronger companions.
Ten baskets of money and jewelry thrown in this manner were picked up from the main floor when the fire was extinguished.
Men and women tore their clothing from them. As the first rush was made for the foyer entrance to the balconies men, women, and children were thrown bodily down the steps.
A few score of those nearest the doorways escaped by falling or being thrown down the stairs of the main balcony entrance.
Scores were wedged in the doorways, pinned by the force of those behind them. There in the narrow aisles at the balcony entrances they were suffocated and fell—tons of human weight.
A French tabloid’s version of the chaos inside the theater.
Rush Down Slanting Aisles.
All succeeded in leaving their seats in the first balcony. Climbing over the seats and rushing up the slanting aisles to the level aisles above, they fought their way. Those at the bottom of the mass were burned but a little. The top layer of bodies were burned till they never can be identified.
Firemen Work in Dark.
Darkness shrouded the theater with its hundreds of dead when the fire was under control that the building could be entered. The firemen were forced to work in smoky darkness when they started carrying the bodies from the balconies.
Falling over each other the rescuers groped in the dark for an arm or leg in the pile of victims trapped in the balcony. For an hour the rescue work was carried on without other light than that of candles.
Baby Stripped of Clothes.
All its clothing torn form it but a pair of baby shoes, the body of an infant was found in a far corner of the balcony.
In her haste to save herself the mother apparently had cast the child aside to be trampled upon and killed by the crowds.
So great was the confusion in the carrying out of the victims that the majority of those in the balconies whose bodies still contained life were the last to be taken from the building.
They were found underneath the dead, their lives saved by the stronger ones who had trampled them down. When itv was discovered that many were living the work of rescuing was begun. Charred and partly incinerated bodies were thrown or laid to one side. The forms of those apparently having life were carried out to be examined by the physicians.
Hatless, coatless, bruised, and bleeding from their fight for freedom, the crowds emerged. Men with presence of mind were carrying women and children. The strangest thing about their exit was the fact that it was silent. Few were screaming. The greatest nise was made by the gathering crowds.
Seeks Party of Twelve Children.
Managers Davis and Powers took up headquarters in the women;s dressing room south of the lobyb as soon as the fire was under control. Hardly had Mr. Davis entered the building when he was approached by George C. Sanburn, 834 Walnut street.
“I had twelve children in two boxes,” he said. “They’re missing. Are they in there?”
“My God, this is what cuts,” said Davis, and he turned away. Mr. Sanburn was assured that his son, Harold, 19 years old, had taken his sister, Eugene, 16 years old, and her ten guests from their boxes in safety.
“What do you want?” a policeman asked of C. E. Elliott, 1832 Michigan Avenue, when that man tried to force his way into the presence of the managers.
“My wife,” he sobbed, and turned away.
Plead for Word of Loved Ones.
Dozens went to the managers. Dozens pleaded with them for knowledge of their loved ones and were turned away by the heartsick men.
A woman, her hair flying, struck the policemen who would prevent her from seeing the managers, and slipped past them. Falling at the feet of a man in the room she threw her arms around his knees.
“O, my Harold,” she sobbed. “Please—please tell me, is he in there? God, man; that’s my only boy.”
The woman pulled at the coats of the men around her appealingly. Suddenly she arose and ran through those who would stop her into the blazing theater. She was brought back alone.
Stage after the fire.
Musham Finds Wall of Bodies.
Fire Chief Musham, summoned from the investigation about to be called at the city hall, was the first man to reach the second balcony. With a lantern in his hand and a half dozen men behind him he worked his way through the smoke to the top of the theater.
“My God, men, go back,” he shouted, when confronted with a wall of human bodies so high he could not see over them into the door. Then he sent out a call to the public to help carry out the victims.
Ghouls Rob the Dead.
There was a rush for the main entrance. Fathers and brothers were in the crowd. Ghouls were there also. Before the first fifty bodies had been carried from the burning theater a score or more of thieves had commenced searching the piles of dead for loot. They filled their pockets. Rings, bracelets, and watches were taken from the dead. Earrings were even torn from many of the women.
Interior of House a Wreck.
Today the main floor of the theater would make a fair skating rink, were the seats removed. It is covered with ice. Icicles hang from the lights, fixtures, and balconies. The rear wall was bulged several feet and has been propped to prevent its falling.
In taking out the building permit the owners set an estimate of $350,000 as the probable value of the building. The full value when completed is given by men connected with the management at $450,000.
Neither balcony fell. The seats are ruined, the stage a wreck, and the full loss, it is thought, may be $150,000-$200,000.
TAKING AWAY THE DEAD ON COAL, HAY AND FREIGHT WAGONS.
Morgues Filled and Overflowed.
The downtown morgues, Rolston’s and Jordan’s, were filled long before the tomb had given up its victims. After that bodies were sent to all undertaking rooms within reach, as far south as Eighteenth and Twenty-second streets, as far north as Division street and North Avenue.
The injured were sent largely to the Samaritan and to St. Luke’s hospitals.
Every kind of vehicle was used to transport the bodies of the dead. The injured generally were carried in ambulances or in patrol wagons.
Thompson’s restaurant, on Randolph street, next door to the theater, became an improvised hospital and morgue. Dead and dying were taken there promiscuously.
Doctors Organize Forces.
The doctors, summoned from every downtown office, elected Dr. G. Frank Lydstone, their chief, and under him they worked with both speed and system. Three doctors were assigned to a table, turned for the time being from the restaurant to operating use. As fast as a victim was pronounced dead the body was placed beneath the table and a new patient laid on the boards above.
In spite of the mighty efforts of the physicians, however, many of the injured were dead before they could be given help, and some were alive who were passed by as being dead. The movement of an arm or the twitch of a facial muscle wasa signal several times answered in haste by watching who thought they stood above a corpse.
Dreary Round of Searchers.
In the evening all suspense centered about the morgue. To these places of identification the bodies were carried in wagon loads each wrapped in its banket.
From morgue to morgue went the searchers.
Chicago Tribune, December 31, 1903
An improvised hospital in Marshall Field & Co.’s store was crowded to its capacity during the fire. The west room and employees’ sitting room on the eighth floor were filled within thirty minutes after the work of the rescue began. The maids in charge of the toilet rooms acted as nurses.
The Inter Ocean, December 31, 1903
Death-Trap At The Main Balcony Exit.
Chicago Tribune, January 1, 1904
January 1-3, 1904
Yet some good came out of this tragedy. Lax enforcement of fire regulations became a thing of the past. All Chicago theatres were closed until they passed inspection. The effect spread beyond Chicago to every city in the country, where new ordinances were enacted and old ones enforced, so that theatres have never again been the menace they were before.
In the aftermath of the disaster, Will Davis, Manager of the Iroquois, was later charged and convicted of misfeasance. Chicago’s mayor was also indicted, though the charges didn’t stick. The theater owner was convicted of manslaughter due to the poor safety provisions; the conviction was later appealed and reversed (1907). In fact, the only person to serve any jail time in relation to this disaster was a nearby saloon owner who had robbed the dead bodies while his establishment served as a makeshift morgue following the fire.
The “absolutely fireproof” building survived with minimal damage and was reopened about a year later as the Colonial Theater. The building was torn down in 1924 to make way for the Oriental Theatre. The theatre has been renamed the Ford Center for the Performing Arts.
The Panic Bar
A salesman from an Indianapolis hardware store named Carl Prinzler was supposed to be in the audience that day. However, other business dealings called him elsewhere. In this era it was common for theatres and the like to lock interior and exterior doors to prevent non-paying persons from entering. This also inhibited persons on the inside from exiting. As was the case during the Iroquois Theatre Fire, all doors were locked and/or bolted which prevented patrons from exiting, causing most to be burned alive or succumbing to smoke inhalation. Prinzler was astounded at the enormous and senseless loss of life that night. He sought a way for doors into public facilities to be locked from the outside, but to allow egress from the inside with minimal effort during an emergency. Prinzler tapped into the architectural engineering abilities of Henry H. DuPont to develop a product. In 1908 the first model of a “panic bar” style egress device was released and Vonnegut Hardware Company (Clemens Vonnegut, great-grandfather of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr,) was utilized to market it. Owing to the joint effort to develop and sell the product, it was sold under the name Von Duprin, a combination of the names Vonnegut, DuPont and Prinzler.
The popular 88 Series crossbar exit devices still manufactured by Von Duprin have appear similar to the original design, although significant engineering changes have been made.
Von Duprin continues to manufacture security related products and is a brand of Allegion plc.
The Panic Bar
Chicago Tribune December 31, 1910
Seven years after the Iroquois Theater fire, in which 600 persons lost their lives, Chicago’s long planned memorial of the catastrophe was dedicated. The memorial is the new Iroquois Memorial Emergency Hospital at 87 Market Street, which was dedicated yesterday and which was erected with funds raised by the Iroquois Memorial Association.
The afternoon exercises were at the hospital and the evening program was held in the Y.M.C.A. auditorium. The tragedy was recalled by Dr. W. A. Evans, commissioner of health, at almost the exact hour in which it took place, between 3 and 3:30 o’clock.
“We meet here today,” said he, “at the time of day when, just seven years ago, those whose tragic end we commemorate were on their way to death.
“It is well that they should not have died in vain, but that some good should come out of their sacrifice and suffering. Such calamities should make us greater in charity, philanthropy, and blessing. They should make us realize that we are all one family.”
Iroquois Hospital, 23 N. Wacker Drive, 1910
Lorado Taft’s Iroquois Tablet, “Motherhood of the World protecting the children of the universe”
Turn Hospital Over to City.
President S. H. Regensburg made the dedication address and presented the hospital to the city and its keys to Dr. Evans at the evening session.
R. T. Crane Jr., honorary president of the association, spoke briefly, and was followed by Dr. Gorge J. Tobias on “Need of This Emergency Station.”
Dr. Tobias said he hoped some day the proper influence would rise and bring about a permanent injunction against the use of the scene of the fire for amusement purposes and that a permanent memorial may be raised on the spot instead.
About fifty persons who lost members of their families in the disaster listened to the speaking.
Cares for Downtown Accidents.
As explained by the speakers, the hospital was built to provide instant and free attention to victims of accidents downtown, the lack of which, it was said, was the cause of many of the deaths in the theater fire.
Temporary assistance will be rendered, the capacity being about sixty patients. The building cost about $50,000 and will be ready for occupancy in a short time.1
The Burning Iroquois
Words by Mathew Goodwin, Music by Edward Stanley
Publisher: McKinley Music Co., © 1904
1 The Iroquois Hospital was torn down in 1951.