Middletown, CT Building Collapse, Apr 1873

FALL OF A BUILDING IN MIDDLETOWN, CONN.

FIVE DEAD AND MANGLED BODIES SOON RECOVERED.

Middletown, Conn., Wednesday, April 9.
At three forty-five this afternoon, a new block being in erection by C. Shepard, Jr., on Main Street, between the custom-house and the Middletown National Bank, fell with a loud crash, carrying with it probably thirty workmen. The fire department was summoned and a crowd of several thousand gathered. Four men, JOHN KELLEY, OWEN SULLIVAN, J. TYNAN and E. HARRISON, were soon extricated, dead, their bodies being considerable mangled, and taken to the courthouse where their friends went. There is a heartrending scene at the present hour, 7:30 P.M. Nineteen others have been extricated, more or less severely injured, and it is thought that of the remainder, but three can be alive. The streets are filled with citizens at work. Coffee is supplied by the hotels. The building was fifty by ninety feet, four stories, with Mansard roof; built very shabbily. Shepard has had three other buildings fall from cheap construction. He now says that he wishes he had gone with the building. People had regarded the building as unsafe for several days. The work will continue all night.
8 P.M. -- Ten escaped with slight injuries. So far as known, five were killed outright, and five more very seriously injured. Thousands of people are gathered about the ruins, and the work of removing the debris is going on. Several more are supposed to be buried beneath the mass of ruins.
The names of the killed are JOHN KELLEY, OWEN SULLIVAN, JOHN TYERNAM, ELIZUR H. HARRISON and JULIUS S. PHELPS.
The injured are as follows: EDWARD CROOK, JOHN REGAN and JAMES C. G. PETERSON, all of whom were very badly injured, and one, it is thought, fatally. Another body has just been removed, that of the brother of the owner of the building. This catastrophe has been generally anticipated by a great many, and serious fears for its safety have been entertained by the owner. At the time of the crash there were engineers at work rebuilding a portion of the foundation, and it is supposed that the direct cause of the fall was on account of the timbers which they were using for props sliding, which left the walls with little or no support.

Hartford, Wednesday, April 9.
A fine business block on Main Street, Middletown just south of the custom-house, known as Shepard's building, fell, this afternoon, with a tremendous crash, burying, according to the first report, forty persons, most of whom were workmen, in the ruins. The building, which was the finest in the city, was nearly completed, and would have been used for business purposes in a few days. It had been regarded as unsafe by many, because a crack appeared in the cornice a short time ago. The builders, however, assured the people that there was no danger. The architect was Russell of New Haven; Messrs. Butler and Westland of Middletown did the mason work, and Mr. Shepard, owner, superintendent the joiner work. The foundations for the walls were eighteen inches thick. The north and south walls were brick and four stories high, while the front and rear walls were of wood, the front being covered with sheet iron and presenting a very showy appearance.

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