Findlay, OH Hotel Marvin Explosion, Jan 1891



FINDLAY, Ohio, Jan. 18. -- About 1 o'clock this afternoon, while the guests of the Hotel Marvin were congregated in the office and parlor waiting to be called to dinner, a tremendous explosion occurred in the dining room, which wrecked one whole side of the building, breaking every window in the house, and killing and wounding a half score of employes.

The excitement which followed created a panic in the neighborhood, and it was some time before it was learned that the explosion was caused by carelessness in handling natural gas, with which the house was heated. This morning a leak in one of the pipes beneath the dining room was discovered, and MR. MARVIN, the owner of the building, accompanied by three plumbers, went down into the apartment below the dining hall to search for the leaking joint. Here they found such an accumulation of gas that they could not breathe, and it was suggested that a hole be sawed through the floor above to let in fresh air, which was done. What followed is involved in mystery, and perhaps the facts will never be known, as the girl who was in charge of the room at the time is dead; but it is supposed that she lighted a match about the time the hole in the floor was opened, to start a fire in the stove, and the fearful explosion which followed was a natural sequence. The shock was tremendous, tearing away one side of the huge building and scattering the furniture and tableware all over the square. There was hardly a whole pane of glass left in the house, and the windows on the opposite side of the street were demolished from top to bottom. The city was rocked as by an earthquake, and the whole populace were soon at the scene of the disaster, and here a queer state of affairs was discovered.

There was no fire anywhere. The shock of the concussion had blown out the flame which caused the explosion, and nothing was to be seen but the brick and mortar ruin. The killed are KATIE WALTERS, a dining room girl, and ELLA JOHNSON, a waitress. The seriously injured, whose chances of recovery are slight, are KATE ROONEY, a dining room girl; FRANK POUNDSTONE, day clerk at the hotel; ANSON E. MARVIN, owner of the building, and FRANK ANDREWS, one of the managers. The others who are burned and bruised in a painful manner, but will recover, are ALBERT FRENCH, hotel porter; CHARLES GRAVES, PHILIP WEIL, and JACK CAHILL, plumbers.

The Hotel Marvin was a new and handsome five-story structure, and had only been occupied by its present proprietors, ANDREWS Brothers, who came here from Meadville, Penna., since the first of the present year. The loss, which well aggregate $35,000 on the building and furniture, will probably be total, as the insurance companies will hardly pay anything on their policies, as there was no destruction by fire. Such an accident as occurred here to-day has long been expected on account of the general carelessness with which natural gas has been handled ever since it became Findlay's principal feature.

At 9 o'clock to-night another explosion occurred in the same place as the one of this afternoon, setting fire to the already wrecked and badly demolished dining room of the Marvin House. The fire department was quickly summoned, however, and more serious damage was averted. The gas from the main pipe has finally been turned off.

The New York Times New York 1891-01-19