Zion, IL Church And Auditorium Fire, Apr 1959


Zion, Ill., (AP) -- Flames swept through the headquarters of the Christian Catholic Church Saturday, wrecking Zion College and Zion Auditorium, home of a widely known Passion play.
Zion Fire Chief BOB CORDER reported all occupants of the buildings escaped safely. Damage may reach two million dollars.
Two church officials, who fled the flames, said about a dozen people had been attending Saturday music classes in the college building.
CARL LEE, assistant overseer of the church, estimated it would cost 1 1/2 to two million dollars
to replace the buildings and their contents.
The city of Zion was built on a site purchased in the early 1900s by the Christian Catholic Church, founded on the beliefs of John Alexander Dowie, of Chicago, a former Scottish congregationalist.
The number of people in the building was estimated by JABEZ TAYLOR, 51, and PAUL STUCK, 20, who jumped from the same first floor window to escape from the fire.
WILLIAM C. DUNN, the church's cashier, said he was in the college building when he heard what sounded like an explosion in the basement.
The auditorium seats 2,000.
The college structure is a four-story stone building
about 50 years old.
The brick auditorium was added in 1939, two years after fire had destroyed Shiloh Tabernacle on April 2, 1937, which also was during the second week of the Passion play.

The Advocate Victoria Texas 1959-04-12