Middletown, CT Insale Hospital Fire, Dec 1919


Patients Are Thought Burned When Blaze Destroys Building of Middletown Institution.


"Trusties" Remain Free from Panic and Help in Saving Goods--Loss is $25,000.

MIDDLETOWN, Conn., Dec. 23--Eight patients of the Connecticut Hospital for the Insane in this place are believed to have been burned to death tonight in a fire which completely destroyed one of the frame buildings of the hospital groups, a mile east of the main building.

There were fifty-three patients in the building, and at midnight only forty-five had been accounted for.

The building in which the fire occurred was known as "the farm" and those housed therein were so-called "trusties," or the milder type of insane patients. They were all men, and instead of joining in a panic when the flames were discovered turned to and assisted the bucket brigade in rescuing their own clothing and some furniture. The missing paients[sic] are believed to have been burned to death when the interior of the building collapsed.

They are Nicholas Venuck, 28, from Hartford; William Carroll, 39, Waterbury; Philo Pritchard, 63, Warren; Richard O'Brien, 61, Stamford; Max Soracka, 52, Hartford; Edward Poelle, 68, Wallingford; Clinton S. Lord, 49, Windsor, and Charles Macheleidt, 55, New Haven.

There was only one attendant in the place when the fire broke out. The two other attendants, who lived in the building, a man and his wife, were in the city doing Christmas shopping.

It was at first reported that there were eleven missing, but one patient, an aged man, walked from the scene to the main hospital and two others were found in a nearby house, none the worse for their experience.

There are three farmhouses attached to the Connecticut Insane Hospital, each a considerable distance from the main building, and the only protection from fire is a bucket brigade.

The burned structure was of three stories and was valued at about $25,000.

The New York Times, New York, NY 24 Dec 1919