Philadelphia, PA Destructive Tornado, Apr 1856


Philadelphia, Sunday, April 13.
About 10 o'clock last evening our City was visited by a most violent gale of wind, unroofing an immense number of buildings, demolishing fences, &c. In the northeast section of the City, comprising the former district of Kensington, the damage was most serious.
The large Presbyterian church on Frankford road above Franklin street, has been partially destroyed. The entire roof was shipped off, and carried to a great distance. The main damage to the interior was, however, caused by the falling of the gable wall, the bricks from which, falling inside, crushed the pulpit and the floor of the audience room down into the session room occupying the basement. The damage to the building cannot be less than $4,000. The congregation held religious services yesterday in the Kensington Hall. The principal portion of the roof and rafers fell into the yard on the south side. One large piece of roof struck the roof and front of an old brick house on the opposide of the street, cutting a narrow gash in the roof, caused by striking it edgeways. The brick wall between two of the front windows was demolished. Another large fragment of the roof was carried about 100 feet from the church, and completely demolished a frame building, two stores high, attached to the dwelling of JAMES MAY, and fronting on Shackamaxon street. In the lower story there were three grown persons and six children who escaped by the ceiling resting upon a table and some chairs. The children were afterwards taken out from beneath them.
The brick church at Queen and Marlborough streets has its roof torn off. Damage about $3,000.
The Webster Public School house was also unroofed. Damage $2,000.
The Kensington depot of the Trenton Railroad, had about one-fourth of the roof torn off.
The most complete scene of destruction is that presented at the FRANKLIN Iron Works of MESSRS. SUTTON & Co., on the wharf. The boiler shop, a frame structure, 150 feet long by 50 feet wide, has been leveled to the ground. During Saturday not less than a hundred men were employed beneath it. The building cost about $15,000, exclusive of the machinery, which is supposed to be not much damaged.
Not less than 50 dwellings in this section were unroofed, but throughout the disaster, wide-spread as it has been, the cases of personal injury inflicted have been very few indeed.

Philadelphia, Sunday, 9 P. M.
The tornado last night unroofed 150 houses in different sections of the city, but there was no loss of life as far as heard from. Two large brick churches and three factories in Kensington were unroofed. The large boiler house of the FRANKLIN iron works, 160 feet long, was totally demolished. The Trenton railroad depot at Kensington was partially unroofed.
The Western telegraph lines are all down, and it will require two or three days to get them again in working order.

The New York Times New York 1856-04-14