Boston, MA Explosion And Fire In Large Building, May 1875





Boston, May 26. -- At 6:40 this evening a terrific explosion occurred in J. D. DOW'S drug store, southwest corner of Washington and Lagrange streets, No. 525 Washington street. At a late hour nothing definite was known, but the wildest rumors are in circulation. At the time of the explosion there were known to be about twenty-two persons in the building, all of whom were more or less seriously injured. The first intimation of the disaster was a deep rumbling sound, similar to the report of an earthquake, and almost simultaneously the walls of the building burst outward in every directioni, and falling in a confused mass, presented a scene of which seldom before witnessed. It was more complete than that of any of the buildings blown down by powder during the great fire. The force of the explosion was almost beyond description, and flooring and other inflammable materials at once took fire. The firemen went heroically to work to subdue the flames and rescue imperiled lives in the ruins. At this writing two dead bodies have been taken out, and three others extricated, who will undoubtedly die. A dozen or more have been sent to the City Hospital, more or less seriously injured. The building in which the explosion occurred is a four-story building, with a front of thirty feet on Washington street, and a depth of seventy feet on Lagrange street.
The ground floor was occupied by J. D. DEW, apothicary and manufacturer of soda water. In removing a mass of brick, the firemen first came upon the body of a horse, attached to a buggy, buried near Lagrange street front, under the debris. The wildest excitement prevailed among the immense crowds of people present as the dead and wounded were being taken from the ruins. A large force of police kept back the populace. The adjoining buildings are more or less shaken and damaged from the effects of the explosion.

The second floor of DAWES' building was occupied by L. D. FRAZIER, merchant tailor, who, with a workman, were taken out slightly injured. The next room back was occupied by MRS. LIZZIE FRAZIER and her little daughter. The latter died soon after being taken out. MRS. FRAZIER was severely, but not dangerously, injured. The third floor was occupied by DR. RICHARDSON, and he is not accounted for. Another room by MADAME E. LILLIE, clairvoyant, and her husband, who were both saved, but a brother of the husband, who lived with them, is not accounted for. The fourth floor was occupied by ANNA COMPTON, a widow lady, who had a number of shop girls boarding with her. The widow was taken out dead, but none of the girls have been accounted for. In addition to the above, the following have been taken from the ruins: MR. LORD, No. 61 East Chester Park, in a dying condition; MR. DANIEL S. FRAZIER, not seriously injured; MRS. LILLIE HERSEY, not seriously injured; MRS. LORING GARDINER and her little son, not seriously injured; MRS. W. A. COFFIN, not seriously injured; JOHN J. MAHONY, probably fatally injured; MORRIS ACKERMAN, in a dying condition; F. ARLEY, skull fractured and otherwise injured; JOHN A. STETSON, slightly injured; JACOB VALSIS, badly cut; MARTHA LOUDEN occupied an apple stand on the corner, she was blown into the street, and had an arm and a leg broken. THOMAS CORREY was badly cut; SAMUEL FARWELL, manager of DAW'S store, blown into the street, badly injured; MISS LIZZIE GETNEY was rescued with great difficulty, slight injuries. The above embraces the casualties as far as can be ascertained at this late hour. It is difficult to estimate the losses. That to the building proper is about $40,000. In view of the terrific explosion and general shaking of the adjoining buildings, it is thought the losses will aggregate $100,000.

Theories of the Accident.
Various theories are advanced as the the nature of the explosion, but nothing as yet is definitely known. The most plausible idea, and that most generally accepted, is that it was the gas-generator in the cellar that exploded. It is asserted, however, there was no nitroglycerine in the house, and that no other substance could have caused such an instantaneous demolition of the building. The dead body of JAMES M. FRAWLEY, book agent, have been taken from the ruins. Other bodies are thought to be there. There is a large force still at work. The ruins are lighted by powerful calcium lights.

St. Louis Globe Democrat Missouri 1875-05-27