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Monday, June 21, 2010 5:33 AM

Oct. 31, 1938

Delphos Herald
Two school fires, believed to be of incendiary origin, caused serious damage in Delphos early Monday morning. The two fires were the most disastrous in Delphos in the past several years.
At about 2:20 a.m. Henry Gemke Jr., South Pierce St., was passing the Franklin school and noticed a blaze in the northeast corner of the building. He turned in the alarm at 2:25 a.m. The Delphos volunteer firemen rushed to the scene and while the flames were at their height, Paul Moenter and Charles Reinemeyer, delivering milk, discovered a fire in the southeast part of the St. Mary’s school which is occupied by St. John’s High School pupils. The alarm for this fire was turned in at 3 a.m.


The city fire truck and the Delphos community truck were both at the Franklin school when St. John’s alarm was received and the community truck and some of the firemen rushed to the second fire.
It is the general opinion that both fires were set by one person or persons unknown. It is thought that gasoline or other combustible was used.
The firemen did an excellent job at both places. The fires were brought under control within a half hour at both places. Heavy smoke hampered the firemen.
Hundreds of persons were attracted to the scene.
At the Franklin school, one room on the first floor and the other directly above were entirely gutted by the flames. The stairway at the north end was destroyed and the flames continued to burn into the attic. The entire interior of the two-story building, built in 1880, was damaged.
The loss at Franklin school is well covered by insurance.
The fire at the St. Mary’s building started in the furnace room in the northeast part of the building. There had been no fire in the furnace since last Friday. The blaze gutted the commercial room directly above the furnace room. The floor was burned out and the desks and other equipment fell into the basement. The steps at the south side of the building were burned through in places. Although there was no fire damage in any other part of the building, the rooms and equipment were damaged by heat, smoke and water. The rooms will have to be redecorated and the furniture and fixtures will have to be refinished.
The building houses three classrooms and an office on the first floor and one classroom, an assembly room and a library on the second floor. The entire building is used for the high school classes and the high school was not in session Monday due to the damage.
It is stated that if the heating plant can be placed in condition, classes will start the first of next week. It is planned to put one class in the upstairs of the abandoned sisters home on First street and one class will probably be placed in the auditorium until repairs can be completed.
Typewriters used in the commercial room were removed from the damaged building. They were sent to Lima for repairs, as many of them were in danger of rusting.
the St. Mary’s building was covered by insurance and will be repaired without cost to the members of St. John’s parish.
Reports were circulated in Delphos Monday that an attempt had been made to secure entrance to the Jefferson school building and that two men had been captured in an attempt to escape from the building. Mr. Bell states that he investigated and can find no place where an attempt was made to secure entrance. The police report no captures.
Most of the teachers and many of the pupils at the Franklin school went to the building Monday morning at the usual time unaware that there had been a fire.
This was also the case with pupils at St. John’s school.

(Two years later,
Nov. 12, 1940, R.H.)
Plans Repair of
Franklin School Soon
Plan Repair of
Franklin School Soon
Thomas McLaughlin and Associates, Lima, architects, are preparing the plans and specifications preparatory to advertising for bids for the repairing of the Franklin school building. It is expected that bids will be received around Jan. 1, 1941, and according  to the plans, the building will be ready for occupancy by the start of the 1941 school term.
It was at first planned to remove the second floor of the building and rebuild the ground floor structure with the aid of W.P.A. bonds. The Delphos board of education, however, decided that the most economical plan would be to rebuild the present structure and agreed to go ahead with the work.
It is made clear that the rebuilding of the structure will be on a pay as you go plan and the people of Delphos will be ahead. Insurance money already available will, it is believed, take care of the greater portion of the cost.
Little change is contemplated on the exterior of the present structure. Steal window frames will be installed and more window space will be made available to conform to state code. Some changes will probably be made on the entrances also.
The remodeled building will contain six classrooms, four on the first floor and two on the upper floor. There will also be a small principal’s office. Two rooms upstairs will be made into one large room  which will be used as an assembly place where motion pictures, programs, etc., can be held. It can also be used for small public gatherings.
The basement layout will be changed somewhat and the heating system will be moved to a new location.
The people of Delphos in general will be glad to hear that there is a movement on foot to repair the building and that it can once again be used for school work. The building has been idle since the fire on Halloween in 1938 when a portion of the building was badly damaged by flames of unknown origin.
Following the fire, classes were moved from the Franklin building and crowded into the available space at the Jefferson school building.
The Franklin school was built in 1888 for $25,000 and was torn down in 1960.
The St. Mary’s school building was built in 1887 and torn down in 1955.

Worst Fire Ever
to Hit Delphos, 1872
Forty-five Structures
Friday, May 3rd will long be remembered by the people of Delphos as “Black Friday”. Not a fire engine nor a hook and very few ladders! Aged buildings that had become tinder-boxes ready to ignite from the least spark, envelope the town in flames, and consume thousands of dollars of valuable property, ought to put us on our guard.
When the alarm sounded the whole town responded, and every exertion was made to stay the flames. Much valuable property and many buildings were saved by the untiring efforts of the people.
The fire originated in the second story of Shenk & Lang’s drug store, and from there spread north and south and south-east, making a clean sweep as far as the town limits, consuming Shenk & Langs, Krifts jewelry store, Hunt & Walsh drugstore, Deubler’s meat market, Finkenour’s grocery, Metzgar’s saloon, Mathis photo gallery, Lindeman’s shoe shop, Gant’s barber shop, Miss Allstatter’s millinery store, Beutner’s shoe shop and residence, Rider’s harness shop, Eich & Co’s tin and stove store, part of Lytle & Scott’s store room, Mrs. Sutton & Miss Lang’s millinery store, O. Kuester’s Insurance and Real Estate office, Mrs. Shrader’s two-story building, Alex Shenk’s two-story building, occupied by Jesse Myers and Capt. Fisher, Mr. Minkhaus two-story building, John Roth’s two story building, smokehouse and outbuildings, Hunt & Christ’s warehouse, Christ Daub’s residence, B. Esch’s residence, occupied by Capt. Green, John Hughes’ residence, Chas. Shaffer’s store and residence, John Bergfeld’s copper shop and residence, Jos. Kroeger’s residence, a large number of barns and many other outbuildings, not included in above.
The entire loss is estimated at from $125,000 to $150,000, one-third of which is probably covered by insurance.
The Fort Wayne Fire Company was carried from Ft. Wayne to Delphos, a distance of 45 miles, in 41 minutes, running time. The Van Wert Company was brought down in 14 minutes. The Lima Company made good time, and all performed nobly.
In consequence of our absence from town during the fire, many incidents of a serious as well as a laughable character will remain unwritten. Noble deeds by noble women and men were performed that ought to be written will be written in letters of gold.
G.Y. Ling, of New York and L. C. Conn, of Van Wert, commercial travelers, rendered noble assistance in fighting the fire. They have the thanks of Delphos.
Probably fifty families in the district threatened, but which fortunately, escaped the flames, removed all their household goods to places of safety. The general confusion which followed in hunting up articles, only those interested can fully appreciate. We have heard of no babies getting mixed up.
Christ Daub, the industrious mechanic, had just made the last payment on a comfortable home, which was swept away in a flash, leaving him penniless.
The post-office was threatened and the contents were removed. About $200 worth of postage stamps were lost or stolen in the removal. But one serious accident occurred during the fire. Mr. George Lang, of Shenk & Lang, in attempting to suppress the fire in the second floor of their store, found himself by the flames, and the only hope left to save himself was to jump through the window to the ground below. In breaking through the glass, his face, hands and arms were terribly lacerated and severely singed by the flames. He has been confined to his bed since, but it is sincerely hoped by his many friends that his recovery will be speedy.
Alex Shenk is probably the heaviest looser by the recent fire. It is carefully estimated at $10,000. The fire was not yet extinguished when he broke ground for a new brick building.
Hunt & Walsh are also very heavy losers, but they too, will soon commence the erection of a fine brick block.
The effects of the fire are perceptible in the appearance of swarms of insurance agents. It doesn’t require as much argument to induce parties to insure now as it did before the fire. Everybody is hunting insurance now.
Scarcely had the St. Mary’s school and the Sisters home been completed when they were threatened by destruction. The fire, from a small start, spread quickly and left a trail of destruction throughout the town.
Three times the church began to burn and three times it was extinguished. (This was the old church, located where the present church stands. R.H.) Once the new school and the sisters’ home caught fire and very narrowly escaped the fate of so many other buildings.
The ruinous flames caught the first log church built by the first settlers on Main Street. These were totally destroyed as were many of the original log structures so painstakingly built by the first colonists of “Ten Mile Woods.”
Most of the damage was confined to the business section between Second and Third streets, the Miami-Erie Canal and Washington street.
As a result of the fire, the Washington Fire Company was organized on July 1, 1872. The town council voted to erect a fire engine house, twenty by forty feet, at a cost of $250. A hand pump with five hundred feet of hose was purchased from Xenia. On Feb. 14, 1873, a hose reel was purchased and construction of seven fire cisterns, each with a two hundred and fifty barrel capacity.
(These cisterns were built under the sidewalk in front of some stores on Main Street. R.H.)

Flames Rage in
Downtown Delphos
The worst fire to hit Delphos in thirty years turned a half block here into a raging inferno last night as it gutted the recently redecorated Peoples National Bank and Vogt and Vogt’s restaurant.
The blaze originated between 8 and 9 p.m. in the bank’s basement, and did damage estimated as high as $800,000. Fire Chief Paul Clinger said that the gas incinerator in the basement apparently exploded.
Persons attending a union meeting on the second floor reported hearing what they described as “a couple of thuds” about half an hour before the fire was reported at 9:05 p.m. The incinerator was located directly under the bank’s small loan dept.
The blaze was discovered by bank employe Harold Swick and Albert Hageman. They were in the Vogt restaurant and smelled smoke coming from the basement. When Swick opened a bank door, the smoke drove him back, and he rushed to the fire station across the street to report the fire.
Chief Clinger said the blaze was of major proportions and he immediately phoned for help. In addition to the local department, the fire departments from Middle Point, Ottoville, Elida, Lima, Van Wert and Spencerville were summoned. Sheriff’s deputies and State Highway Patrolmen from both Allen and Van Wert assisted local police in keeping hundreds of people that lined the streets back from the blaze, and assisted this morning in directing traffic around the gutted building.
A Van Wert pumper with an aerial ladder broke down along U.S. 30 on the way to Delphos and was  reportedly abandoned along the highway.
Smoke damage was reported at the Lion Clothing Store next door and to Shenk’s Drygoods Store. Both Frank Wellman of the Lion Store and Robert Shenk of the Shenk Store was high in their praise this morning of Delphos citizens who assisted in carrying mechandise from the two stores. Most of the merchandise was carried across the street to the Westrich Store.
Elmer Scherger, vice president and cashier of the bank, told the Herald this morning that all records are intact. When the vault was opened at 7 a.m. today, Scherger said, there was not even warm air in it.
Banking operations will be continued at the Drive-In bank until further notice, Scherger said.
Attorney John Shenk, whose office is on the second floor, went through his office this morning and said the steel filing cabinets withstood the fire. “All confidential papers are intact,” Shenk said, “and no records of any value were destroyed.” He will conduct his business from his home at 229 East Third street for the present.
Edmund Wurst and Dr. David Morgan, who have offices in the building, were not available for comment this morning.
Firemen were on the job battling the blaze until about 4:30 a.m. although it was largely under control by midnight.
At times water from six to eight hoses were used on the fire. Shortly after 11 p.m. the water from the canal was pressed into use.
The water level was raised in the canal and two hoses were used to raise the water pressure.
The two Lima trucks reached the scene about 50 minutes after the blaze was first spotted and the 75-foot aerial ladder poured thousands of gallons of water over the bank’s roof.
Ambulances were sent to the scene by Harter & Son and by Kolkmeyer, Clark & Helmkamp, but neither saw action.
Twenty-five of the firemen were members and volunteers of the Delphos department. Lima sent two trucks and six men.
Police Chief N.W. Grewe had high praise for the cooperation received not only from area law enforcement agencies, but also the citizens of Delphos who followed police orders to “stay back”.
Clinger, late this morning, was awaiting the arrival of a state fire marshal from Toledo to double-check the possibility of arson, which would be remote.
The bank building, which was remodeled in 1957, is of polished granite and stainless steel, and was without a doubt, the most beautiful building in the Delphos business district. While this building, it is believed, can be rehabilitated, the loss will be very heavy and months of arduous work will be required.
the bank was beautifully furnsihed and was modern in every respect. Work was started on the removel of the furniture and fixtures with a view of salvaging and refinishing where possible.
It is believed that the principal damage to the main portion of the bank building is from smoke and water, as the fire itself was largely confined to the building to the east.
The Vogt & Vogt restaurant was gutted by the fire. Very heavy damage was also caused to the Lindemann and Shenk law office on the second floor of this building and to the offices of Dr. Morgan and Edmund Wurst, accountant, on the second floor of the same building.
This fire caused more local excitement and probably more loss than any in Delphos since the “Black Friday” fire on May 3, 1872, when a portion of the business district and most of the Second ward was destroyed.
Spokesmen for the Peoples National Bank told the Herald late this morning that arrangements have been made to move temporarily into the front part of the office of the West Ohio Gas Company.
The National Cash Register posting machine and the National Cash Register proof machine have already been moved into the temporary location.
They also said that efforts are under way to clean up the bank building so that patrons will have access to the safe deposit boxes as soon as possible.


Last Updated on Tuesday, November 06, 2012 3:08 PM

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