Monday, March 31, 2014

The Market Street Fire of 1939

On this date seventy-five years ago the most devastating fire Sandusky has known struck downtown, turning nearly an entire block into ruins. Commonly known as the Herb & Myers fire (or the Market Street fire) because it was believed to have started in the M.R. Herb department store on East Market Street, the fire quickly destroyed many business on the 100 block of East Market Street, and continued to smolder for days afterward. The cause of the fire was never determined, probably due to the intensity of the flames, which left little evidence to discover in the rubble.

Among the other businesses destroyed in the fire were the Sears & Roebuck store, the W.S. Frankel store, the McLellan Dollar store, all in the Graefe Building,  and E.B. Ackley's cigar store and office on Water Street.

The fire and the subsequent demolition and removal of the remaining rubble soon became a major tourist event, as can be seen in some of the photographic images. Reports claimed that as many as 10,000 spectators went downtown to see the fire and its aftereffects, although that might be an exaggeration.

The estimated financial cost of the fire was $2 million (about $33 million in today's dollars), with about 200 people put out of work.

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