Augusta, GA Opera House And Other Buildings Burn, Feb 1887



Augusta, Ga., Feb. 12. -- Hardly had the crowd left the matinee performance of "Lady Audiey's Secret," by MRS. BOWERS, when the cry of fire was given and the Opera House was found to be on fire. During the progress of the fire the streets were filled with thousands of people and the country was lit up for miles. Unscrupulous persons gave currency to a report that an earthquake shock had been felt, and this added terror to the feeling of awe, and spread consternation all around. People were cuffed and crushed on the streets, and ingled with lamentations went up prayers. The flames spread with great rapidity, and the Fire Department seemed powerless to check them. The splendid Masonic Hall and theatre, where the fire originated, the Globe Hotel, the stores of DALY & ARMSTRONG and JAMES G. BAILEY were gutted.
The fire which broke out at 6:06, was under control at 9:30. The Central Hotel and the stores of J. B. WHITE & Co. were badly damaged. Several small stores were destroyed. The total loss will amount to over $200,000.
The corrected losses are as follows, fully covered by insurance:
Masonic Theatre, building, fixtures and Masonic paraphernalia, $86,000.
DAILY & ARMSTRONG, on stock, $9,400.
BAILIE & COSKERY, on stock, $6,700.
O. K. Clothing House, $5,300.
J. B. WHITE, clothing and shoes, $37,500.
Globe Hotel, $36,000.
E. LIEBSHER, fish dealer, $1,000.
W. A. RAMSEY, provisions, $200.
R. L. MIXON, produce, $500.
JOHN CARTWRIGHT, bar, $5,000.
McINTOSH & ROBERTS, barbers, $5,000.
BENSON & Co., cigars and tobacco, $5,000.
The BOWERS company had their entire wardrobe in the theatre and it was lost. Manager JOHN RITCHIE was seen by The Times's correspondent. He says the loss to the company will approximate $20,000, MRS. BOWERS'S wardrobe alone being valued at $10,000. Manager RITCHIE says he will cancel all dates for a month ahead, and he and his company will return to New York for a new outfit, as it is impossible to fit up again in the South.
A cold wave had been predicted for tonight, and the heating apparatus of the theatre had been put in operation, and from a defective flue or other irregularity the fire is supposed to have originated. Falling walls at times threatened death to firemen and the escape of all without a scratch is almost miraculous. Had the fire occurred half an hour earlier or an hour later the loss of life would have been fearful. MRS. BOWERS had captured the town and was drawing the largest houses of the season -- 700 reserved seats had been secured for the night performance, and an hour later the Opera House would have been packed. While Augusta is sorrowful for her loss, many a prayer has been offered in thanksgiving that the fire did not occur when the house was packed with loved ones.

The New York Times New York 1887-02-13