New York City, NY Chair Factory Fire, May 1865




MESSRS. MASON & Co.'s extensive chair manufactory, at Nos. 186, 188 and 190 Avenue C, was totally consumed, and several tenement dwellings and other buildings in the immediate neighborhood were very seriously damaged by fire and water, at about noon on Saturday. The flames were first observed in the fire-room of the chair factory; but they sped upward with such velocity through the inflammable stock and machinery with which the building was filled, that there was literally no time for the escape of the occupants of the upper stories; and had it not been the dinner hour, when nearly all of the workmen were absent, the loss of life must have been appalling. The occupants of the fifth story -- that story having been occupied by families -- were withing the building, and they escaped only by pressing into service a rope which had been used in hoisting furniture outside on the front. Three of their number, however, in their eagerness to make their exit, flew to the windows, and, attempting to get thence to the pavement, fell, and were mortally injured. The name of one of these -- a French workman in the factory -- who undertook to descend from the fifth story by hanging on the outer wall, and retaining a hold on the window sill until the firemen could raise a ladder to rescue him, has not been reported. The volumes of smoke from a fourth story window beneath smothered him, and he fell while the firemen were preparing under intense and almost overpowering heat, to take him fromt the vast, consuming furnace. FRANK STIVER, one of the workmen, who was employed on the third floor, leaped from a window, and was mortally injured. DENNIS GIBORD, of No. 206 Church st., was also mortally injured. The three men were taken to Bellevue Hospital. Several occupants of the upper floors narrowly escaped death; but the three men above reported are all that are known to have been injured beyond hope of recovery.
The chair factory having been consumed, its massive walls fell -- one northward crushing in the roof and fourth story of No. 192 Avenue C, and the other southward, demolishing the roof and upper story of No. 154; and these buildings, with the Atlantic Foundry, in the rear and the tenement dwelling opposite, were at one time in imminent peril; but happily the firemen were able to check the conflagration here.
The origin of this calamitous conflagration not appearing, an investigation is to be instituted by Fire Marshal BAKER.

The New York Times New York 1865-05-29