Saturday, February 21, 2009

Seven buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

Site of origin of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
Address: Dekoven and Jefferson Street
In 1961, a bronze sculpture of stylized flames entitled "Pillar of Fire" was erected at the point of origin of Chicago fire.
Sculptor: Egon Weiner ..
At the base of the sculpture "Pillar of Fire" is written:
Here began the Chicago Fire of 1871..
The site was designated a Chicago Landmark on September 15, 1971..
Since 1956, Chicago Fire Academy, a training facility for Chicago firefighters has been located here..

The plaque reads ..
Chicago Landmark ..
Site of the origin of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 ..
The great Chicago fire began October 8, 1871, in the O'Leary barn on DeKoven Street. Fanned by a strong wind, in a city largely built of wood structures, the blaze raged for nearly 30 hours. Flames spread so far as Fullerton Avenue, before finally dying out in the early morning rain, October 10. Almost everything in the path of the fire had been destroyed.
Designated a Chicago Landmark on September 15, 1971
by the City Council of Chicago
Richard J. Daley, Mayor
Commission on Chicago Historical and Architectural Landmarks

One can walk into the hall of the Chicago Fire Academy and see the site of Mrs O'Leary's Home, which is marked with a plaque..
The plaque reads ..
Mrs. O'Leary's Home..
On this site stood home and barn of Mrs. O'Leary where the Chicago fire of 1871 started. Although there are many versions of the story of its origin, the real cause of the fire has never been determined.
Erected by Chicago's Charter Jubilee
Authenticated by Chicago Historical Society 1937...

Since 1956, Chicago Fire Academy, a training facility for Chicago firefighters has been located at the site of the origin of the Great Chicago fire..

The Great Chicago Fire [Oct 8- 10, 1871]..
The Fire started around 9 o'clock on Sunday evening, October 8, 1871; and continued till Tuesday morning, Oct 10, when some much-needed rain helped to stop the blaze. The Fire killed approximately 300 people, destroyed over 17,000 structures, and left 100,000 people homeless..

I've read at many places that a few buildings survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, most famous being the Old Water Tower at Magnificent Mile. But, I coudnt find the names of all the buildings that survived the fire together at-one-place anywhere. However, in my googling endeavours, I did find these names scattered over at different websites. So here I'm putting them all together..
All the seven buildings that survived the fire..

Old Water Tower..
Location: 806 North Michigan Avenue...

Chicago Avenue Pumping Station..
Location: 821 North Michigan Avenue..

St. Michael's Church in Old Town..
Address: 1633 N Cleveland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614..

REF: St. Michael in Old Town, here
"Soon, flames tore into all the parish buildings, leveling all of them. Only the walls of the church remained standing."

Old St.Patrick's Church..
Address: 700 W Adams Street, Chicago, IL, 60661 ..

REF: Old St. Patrick’s Church.. click here..
"Having survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Old St. Patrick’s stands as the oldest public building in the city."

Three cottages in the Mid-North District ...
# Twin buildings: 2339 N Cleveland and 2323 N Cleveland..
# 2121 N Hudson building ...

Twin buildings:
2339 N Cleveland [left].. and.. 2323 N Cleveland [right]..

2121 N Hudson building..
REF: Chicago Landmarks: Mid-North District click here...
"Several pre-Fire of 1871 wooden Worker's Cottages still survive in the district"..
However, the official site on Chicago Landmarks, did not specify the name of the buildings. So I had to search on wikipedia ...
REF: Chicago/Lincoln Park-Old Town - Historic Districts..
click here..

Some pre-fire buildings..

The Clarke House..
is considered the oldest surviving domestic structure in Chicago.
Address: 1855 S. Indiana Ave.
Year Built: Circa 1836
Architect: Unknown
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: October 14, 1970.
# For more, click here..

St. Ignatius College Prep Building..
Address: 1076 W. Roosevelt Road
Year Built: 1869; West addition, 1874
Architects: Toussaint Menard,John P. Huber
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: March 18, 1987..
# For more, click here..


Anonymous said...

hey im a kid looking up some resrc and i jus want t say thanks fo this site:)

Anonymous said...

this is a great site and catalog of chicago architecture, you could/should make this into a book, i'd buy it

Mo said...

St. Ignatius is one of the survivors too!

Jyoti said...

Hi Mo,
St. Ignatius pre-dates the Fire of 1871..
It can be called a survivor only when it is in the line of fire ..
There are a few buildings that
pre-dates the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.. But they cannot be called "survivors" of the fire..unless they were in the line of fire..

Scotti Cohn said...

Jyoti - I came across this description of the house at 2343 N Cleveland:

"The property has a lot size of 5,640 square feet and was built in 1886."


If it was built in 1886, it did not survive the fire, which occurred in 1871.

Bill '69 said...

St Ignatius College Prep. (formerly: St. Ignatius College in 1871)and the Holy Family Church next door are at 1076 W. Roosevelt Rd. The fire started at O'Leary's barn just east a few blocks from there and maybe one block north. The prevailing direction of the spread of the fire due to wind was north and east but the school was in the line of fire as is spread also westward. The fire was so huge that it created its own wind. Father Damen, S.J., who built the school, lit a candle with a prayer that the school and church would survive. That flame still glows in the church. Jyoti...If you were you there on the day of the fire feeling the heat of if in front of the school as it came toward you you might think differently about its "survival".

Scotti Cohn said...

Just wanted to add that I think the real estate listing I linked to must be wrong about the date the house at 2343 N Cleveland was built. After all, it's a "twin" to the house nextdoor, and the listing for that house says it was built in 1866. It seems unlikely that twin houses would have been built 20 years apart. I think it's a typo (they put 1886, when they meant to put 1866).

As to St. Ignatius, I think Bill '69 makes a very good argument for including it as a Great Fire survivor.

Jyoti said...

Scotti Cohn -
Thanks for writing! I really appreciate your interest in finding about the twin cottages.

Bill 69,
Thanks for the information!
I stand corrected!

But in that case, we have eight survivors of the Great Chicago Fire.. Not seven, that I have read at so many places!

Is anyone absolutely sure which buildings survived the fire?

Maureen said...

I have a picture of my great grandparents house 4603 State Street that may have survived the fire. It was post 1871 and the house was made of wood. Could it have been a new structure?


Anonymous said...

My GGG Grandparents lived on Church/Hudson during the fire and these pictures are extremely interesting to me and my family. Thanks for posting as well as including the pictures of St Michaels where they attended services.

T Dockendorf

Jyoti said...

Hi Dockendorf!
I'm very glad to hear form you. Thanks for sharing..

Unknown said...

Why wasn't Mayor Ogden's home listed as one of the survivors?
History says that the wind changed direction and that the Mayor's home was saved from the fire's destruction.
Ned R. Turner

knichaley said...

I remember reading that the Ogden home was saved by draping wet rugs on the rooftop of the home

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot! I'm doing a paper on the Great Chicago Fire and this is the first website that I've seen that tells about a memorial plaque and about the property the O'Leary's donated to the fire department. (Also a cool fact is if you look down the O'Leary line, you'll see that every O'Leary male has been in the fire department to this day!)

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much. I lived at 2121 N. Hudson as a child, and it was very nice to see the photos. My mom actually did much of the work restoring the building. Thanks to all those little people doing historical renovation.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprosed Holy Family Church on Roosevelt was not mentioned. This is also one of the few, historical churches that survived the fire.

Anonymous said...

The house on the left in this picture has the plaque now at the fire academy. This building was built on the site of the barn:

And the church here survived the fire:

Anonymous said...

i need facts about the great chicago fire plzzzzz!

Anonymous said...

ineed facts

Anonymous said...

Love this website thx for making it

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about 929 N. Dearborn. Formerly Scottish Rite Cathedral, now Harvest Bible Chapel.

Some of the building was destroyed in the fire, but was rebuilt and repaired by 1873.

Ron said...

I am looking for info as to fate of 1242, 1244, 1246 Michigan Avenue. These were probably within ten blocks of Terrace Row, which burned. I assume these burned also. Where can I find confirmation of the fate of these residences?

Thanks for your informative site.

Jerrian said...

My great-grandparents,children and 2x great-grandfather, were living on Ada street during the fire. My 2x ggrandfather held my grandfather, and watched while my grandpas dad and neighbors tried to fight the fire. I understand there is a plaque somewhere in that region, that lists the tenants who were living there at the time. Does anyone know about this?

Unknown said...

I was told by my grandmother that there was an old steel mill downtown chicago that survived the chicago fire. It was my great grandpa and his father's place.

Unknown said...

If anyone know of any history about that old steel mill. I would be very interested in knowing about it even a picture of it would be wonderful too. Thanks in advance to anyone who can help with the search.

Unknown said...

If anyone know of any history about that old steel mill. I would be very interested in knowing about it even a picture of it would be wonderful too. Thanks in advance to anyone who can help with the search.

Unknown said...

I was told by my grandmother that there was an old steel mill downtown chicago that survived the chicago fire. It was my great grandpa and his father's place.

Unknown said...

I was told by my grandmother that there was an old steel mill downtown chicago that survived the chicago fire. It was my great grandpa and his father's place.

Don said...

I always wonder why St James on Wabash is not included in this list. The facade apparently survived the fire and the remainder was rebuilt. Similar to what happened at St Michaels but it does not get the same love.

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jerry creech said...

they entirely forgot the mahlon ogden residence it was a true survivor before and after

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Anonymous said...

Don't forget that the tower of St. James Cathedral survived the fire.

Unknown said...

My G G Grandfather Peter Dockendorf lived on North Hudson and would tell my mother about the fire with vivid detail and memory. I believe, but could be wrong, that the fire, based on maps, came within two homes of their house. This blog is excellent and very informative. It brings everything he told my mother to life. Thank you for this.

debanhi said...

Im a kid to I was doing reaserch so thanks for this websight!

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Anonymous said...

My father owned a 3 story restaurant that used a dumbwaiter to serve food.
I can't remember exactly the address but it was on Jackson or VanBuren. It survived the Chicago Fire. It had a different name than Jackson or VanBuren as the address. Xxxx Pickwick Lane. East of State. Does anyone remember?

Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. said...

The building you are referring to on Pickwick Place did NOT survive the 1871 Chicago Fire. The 2-story brick building was built on (later a 3rd floor was added) the Pickwick Farm's Stable. It is now a coffee shop.

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Anonymous said...

That's so cool you lived there! I grew up just a few blocks away from that house (born '64 moved '85) and knew about it so would sometimes take someone to show them the house and plaque, which I noticed you can see in the photo just a little over the top of the shrub. I've walked to Carnival Market with friends and family and take them by the house and show the plaque lol I've sat with friends at The Four Farthings talking over a pint about that house and even had to walk them over to prove myself lol winning a pint or 2 in the process �� So awesome that you lived there ��

Unknown said...

Does anyone know about the building at 1659 W. Huron ? I think it was built in 1869. But, I don't see any information about how it survived the fire. On the outside of the building near the top peak, it says "Schupp's Building". I am not sure if that was the builder or the architect.

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