Chicago, IL Colby Furniture Co and Wabash Avenue Fire, Jan 1908

Wabash Avenue Fire, photo from Wabash Avenue Fire, photo from Wabash Avenue, early 1900s before the fire, photo from Wabash Avenue Fire, photo from Wabash Avenue Fire, photo from


Chicago, Jan. 28.--The third disastrous fire in the business district of the city in as many days, caused a loss last night estimated at more than $1,000,000 in the almost complete destruction of the building at 144 Wabash avenue occupied by Alfred Peats & Co., dealers in wall paper, the building adjoining on the south occupied by John A Colby & Sons, furniture dealers, and those in the rear, fronting on Michigan avenue, occupied by the millinery firms of Gage Bros. & Co., Theodore Ascher & Co. and Edson Keith & Co. The interior of each of the buildings was burned out.

The fire started in the engine room of the Peats building and raged for three hours. Street car lines throughout the down town district and the elevated lines were tied up and theater-goers were delayed, many of them more than an hour in reaching the play houses. The work of the firemen was witnessed by at least 15,000 persons who, attracted by the glare which could be seen for miles, thronged the streets in spite of the cold.

The losses as apportioned among the various firms are:
Alfred Peats & Co., $250,000; John A Colby & Sons, $200,000; Edson Keith & Co., $600,000; Gage Brothers, $25,000; Theodore Ascher Company. $25,000. Others who suffered loss, chiefly by smoke and water were: Earl Netchert, artificial flower dealer, $10,000; Remington Typewriter Company, $5,000, and John A Bryant Company, pianos, $5,000.

The Fort Wayne Sentinel, Fort Wayne IN 29 Jan 1908



Destructive Flames Imperil an Entire Block of Business Buildings.

LOSS PLACED AT $1,700,000

Sixty Fire Engines Pump Water on the Burning Structures for Several Hours.

Wall Paper, Furniture and Millinery Feed the Flames--Great Blaze Attracts Thousands of People to the Scene.

Chicago, Jan. 30.--Five buildings partly destroyed, elevated and surface car traffic to many points of the city disarranged, and a loss which may reach $1,700,000 were some of the results of a fire which drew 15,000 persons to the lake front, imperiled an entire block of structures between Wabash and Michigan avenues and Madison and Monroe streets, and in spectacular features and thrilling incidents rivaled any conflagration which has occurred in Chicago for years.

The fire practically destroyed the buildings occupied by Alfred Peats & Co., wall paper; John A Colby & son furniture: and Edson Keith & Co., millinery; besides doing large damage to adjacent structures in both avenues.

Loss Placed at $1,700,000.

The loss is estimated at $1,700,000 in great part covered by insurance. The Keith house and the adjoining business houses of Gage Bros, & Co. and Theodore Ascher company, all of them millinery establishments, are esp0ecially heavy losers, because the salvage on such stocks is considered nothing, and they are able to insure to less than half full value.

In point of number of engines at work and additional alarms the fire was the largest in Chicago since the summer of 1894. There were sixty fire engines engaged in pumping water for the scores of streams thrown into the burning buildings. Firemen declared the fire the largest within the loop district, in the matter of property loss, since the fire of 1874.

Transit Lines Paralyzed.

The fire throughout was spectacular and attracted tens of thousands of persons to view it. The four elevated railroad systems of the city were paralyzed in their loop terminals, and the Cottage Grove and Indiana surface lines were blocked for five hours. Theaters in the vicinity of the fire were almost deserted during the early acts of the plays.

One fireman was slightly injured but otherwise the record is free from casualties, in spite of the terrific sweep of the flames and the sharp cold of the night, made more bitter by a northwest gale.

Besides the firms mentioned above many smaller concerns suffered losses varying from $5,000 to $15,000.

Edwardsville Intelligencer, Edwardsville, IL 30 Jan 1908