Richmond, VA Church Fire, Apr 1856

Destructive to Fire in Richmond, Va.-Church Burned.

From the Richmond Dispatch, April 14.

Yesterday morning, about 1 o’clock, the large frame building on Eighteenth Street, between Franklin and Grace, occupied by Mr. O.A. Francis as a carriage factory, was set on fire, and, the timber being very dry and combustible, the flames spread with such rapidity that three boys who slept in the shop barely had time to escape in their nightclothes. Before the firemen could get their apparatus in operation the edifice was wrapped in a sheet of flames, which speedily communicated with Messrs. Rowe & Meredith’s wheelwright and blacksmith shop, which was also properly destroyed.

While these buildings were in flames, a stiff south breeze sprang up, and drove myriads of sparks and floating coals upon Christ Church, on Grace Street. The firemen seeing the danger in which this edifice stood, directed their energies to its preservation, but without effect, for the roof took fire, and the flames speedily wound themselves around the cupola, which was built of heart timber and burning through it, the falling sparks fired the church inside, sending forth such intense heat that it was impossible for the firemen to approach it. In the meantime the roof of Mr. Duke’s stable took fire in several places, and threatened to fire the buildings on the opposite side of the street, but the firemen succeeded in subduing the fire at this point, after having extinguished the burning roof of Seabrook’s warehouse, which caught fire several times, saving Mt. Mangum’s residence adjoining the church, preventing the destruction of Mr. Duke’s stable, and protecting a large number of frame buildings in the neighborhood.

Mr. Francis has lost $4,000 or £5,000 in stock and ready-made work, upon which he had no insurance. All the journeymen lost their tools. Messrs. Rowe & Meredith have lost about $500; no insurance. Mr. Thomas Duke’s loss is about $200; no insurance. The Trustees of Christ Church had a small insurance in the Mutual Office, but as the organ, books and everything else but the walls were destroyed, the loss cannot fall short of $6,000.

The New York Times, New York, NY 16 Apr 1856