Jackson, MI Building Collapse, Oct 1956

Rescue workers and construction firm officials said they have given up any hope that any might still be alive.
Rescue operations were called off early today when construction officials decided the men could not have survived.
John J. Switzer, a superintendent for Herlihy Mid-Continent Construction Co., said "if there was any chance those men were still alive I'd let the boys continue working. But there isn't and we've given up hope of finding them alive."
Switzer said the rescue operation also was called off because of the danger of falling debris from the still standing portions of the building. He said picked construction crews would go into the wreckage and knock the rest of the building down. When that job is finished the crumbled debris will be removed and new efforts made to find the bodies of the dead.
Missing and presumed dead were sheet metal workers GALE MARBLE, Flint; FLOYD BAKER, Spring Arbor; CHARLES AMMAN, Jackson and CLAUDE DINSEHUS, Jackson; Plumber GEORGE BERRY, SR., Jackson; and air conditioning worker WILLIAM ROSE, Jackson.
The bodies brought out Wednesday after the collapse of the building were those of WILLIAM BINGHAM, 46, St. Joseph; ROY GARDNER, 27, GERALD ELEY, 50, and RAY CLAUGHERTY, 52, all of Jackson.
Fifteen were injured, 13 serious or critical were hospitalized.
The southwest wing of the L-shaped, $3 million Consumers Power Co. office building going up in a northwest suburban section, collapsed after workmen had just finished pouring concrete for the fourth floor.
Some of the 125 employed on the project were carrying materials outside the structure, others had not returned from lunch hours.
The wet concrete and wall pillars at the top suddenly caved in. Like falling dominoes, all four floors went crashing into the basement, carrying down cement finishers and burying plumbers, electricians and metal workers.
George Berry, Jr., said the collapse started with loud "plops." He and other workers in the basement ran and knelt, frightened, in a safe corner.
Russell Taylor, 64, a carpenter, was on an upper story.
He said the building's collapse left him standing on a ledge and then he heard the screams of those caught in the wreckage.
Other workmen like Berry, blamed "green concrete"
for the disaster.
They were backed by Jackson Fire Chief Harold Crawford, who said, "You can tell by looking at it that it hadn't set long enough."
But Frank Herlihy, Chicago, president of Herlihy Mid-Continent main contractor on the building, said all floors had set for four to six weeks before the next floor was added. He said, "I've never had anything like this happen in 30 years in this business."
He promised an investigation. So did State Police Capt. Forest White.
Herlihy and James Monroney, Kalamazoo plumbing contractor, had toured the building only minutes before the collapse.
In the first hours after the collapse, rescuers were stymied by the tangle of steel beams, reinforcing rods and concrete pillars. Then calls for help brought cranes, bulldozers, acetylene torches and air hammers from other construction firms.

Holland Evening Sentinel Michigan 1956-10-04

Comments

1956 consumer power blding disaster.

I made a trip to consumer power in 1991, to see the sight that my grandfather died at, where my grandmother waited to hear of her husbands (68) fate, not willing to give up hope, she sat their until my father, mother and uncle made her leave to get some rest. She had a massive heart attack when she got word, she lived out the rest of her life frail and heart broken literally til christmas eve 1972, alone. My father lived out the rest of his life afraid to get too close to his own family, and did not talk about it .Growing up I remember very few words with my dad. I had made this trip from Texas to Michigan, only to find that there was not only no memorial marker of any size or kind, but that the people working in the new building did not even know where the actual site was, or that it even happened, so here goes another broken heart away from parnall rd.

Resided at 2240 Parnel

My father was asleep in his backyard in his hammock and was awakened by the collapse. It was a hot October day. He stated that: it took a couple days to get all the victims out. Consumers stopped meter employees from going across the driveway to lend assistance. His mother and father ran down the road and observed prison trustees being brought down from Southern Michigan Prison to dig in the rubble with their hands in attempts to rescue any survivors. Many resources were called in to assist such as, red cross, National Guard, local Dr's, etc.
It was over a year before the building sight was cleared for rebuild. The building was scaled back from the original 12-14 floors to the 7-8 that it is now.
This disaster made national headlines.
Several lawsuits were initiated, but not sure of the outcomes.

He also says he remembers reports of men on the top of the structure riding down as it collapsed, then stepping off at ground level.

Sorry about your dad.

1956 building collapse

My father was one of the men that died in this accident and I would like more information on this, I was only 3 years old at the time and my family never talk about this accident.