On This Day in Frostburg/FFD History

November 20, 2019 Events  No comments


November 20, 1936 – The four-story Frostburg Opera House at the corner of Main and Depot Streets (Fat Boys Pizza today) is destroyed by an intense fire and burns to a shell. Said to have been a spectacular fire, fed by grain stored in the basement and huge virgin white pine girders, melts the copper roof providing a fireworks-like display lasting most of the night. Lemmert Bros. Garage and four homes are damaged by flying embers. Estimated losses are $70,000 and the cause of the fire, though never proven, was thought to be arson.

This fire was just four days after the Wittig and Laporta block on Main Street was partially destroyed by fire.

The following was entered into the FFD minutes on 24 NOV 1936.

Chief Bernard Hughes reported two fires at John Reeses in the Wittig Building on November 16 causing considerable damage also a fire at the Frostburg Opera House destroying the building. He stated that the department covered themselves with glory at these fires and that no complaint to make against any member.

The following two articles appeared in the Cumberland Times on Sunday, November 22, 1936:

Street Now Open At Frostburg after Destruction of Opera House Friday

Work of pulling down the remaining walls and chimneys left standing of the old Frostburg Opera House, destroyed by fire, early Friday morning, was expected to be completed by today. Main Street was opened today to traffic. Assisted by employees of the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company workers pulled down the east end wall using ropes.

The fire, which destroyed the only four-story building in the city, once known as Ravenscroft’s Opera House, did considerable damage to surrounding properties and not only caused heavy financial loss, but placed a number of people out of work. The Schneider printing plant had two regular and two part time employees and six carrier boys, who distributed the company’s weekly paper; the only local publication.

W. H. Deneen plumbing shop proprietor, sustained a loss of about $5,000. He was left without a set of tools to resume his work. He has been in the plumbing business 33 years.

Frostburg has experience an epidemic of fires this week with the Frostburg Fire Department responding to five calls, three of which were of minor importance. Two fires, however, destroyed or damaged nine places of business and put four families out of their homes.

Gentlemen: The Ursuline Sisters wish to express their deep appreciation and gratitude to Mr. Bernard Hughes, Chief, and to the members of the Frostburg Fire Department for the prompt way in which they responded to the call for help within the past few days. And also, for the splendid manner in which those fires were brought under control and the properties of other residents saved from destruction. May God bless these noble men.
Respectfully and gratefully, The Ursuline Sisters


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