Town Hall at Toronto burns; lives in peril
1916 TORONTO FIRE
Posted By: Sharon Elijah (email)
Date: 4/27/2019 at 09:48:10
22 August 1916 - The Clinton Advertiser
Toronto, Ia. Aug. 22--The Toronto dance hall and opera house owned by J. H. Bielenberg and leased to Gable and Christensen burned to the ground Saturday evening about 11 o'clock. Loss $4,000, with only $1,500.00 insurance. This is quite a loss to Mr. Bielenberg and Gable & Christensen , and to the town of Toronto in particular as it was one of the most popular dance halls in the county.
The blaze started about 11 o'clock when the dancers, about 140 couples, were enjoying themselves, and the alarm of fire nearly caused a panic among the dancers. All escaped without injury, as the fire occurred while the band and dancers were eating supper and part of the large crowd were out of the hall.
The dance hall had a floor space of 40 by 90 feet, with a large annex dining room and stage, valued at $4,000.00.
The dance followed the big King shoot in the day time and the dance was given by the ladies of the park association and everything was progressing nicely until the fire.
The cause of the fire was escaping gas from the prest O light tank which ignited and the entire structure was all ablaze instantly and burned to the ground in 35 minutes. The fire came so sudden and spread so rapidly that it was impossible to save anything in the building at all. The band boys lost most of their instruments, the dancers their wraps, etc., in the check room, the ladies the entire receipts of the day. By heroic work of the citizens, the dancers and help from the country, and the volunteer fire department from Wheatland saved all the buildings near the hall and the remaining portion of the town.
Mr. Bielenberg has not decided yet if he will rebuild or not, but all hope he will.
All are taking their loss good naturedly, and feel that it was certainly lucky that the large crowd of men, women and children escaped alive and uninjured. It is estimated that at least 1,500 visitors from neighboring towns visited the scene of the fire Sunday.
Clinton Documents maintained by Lynn Diemer-Mathews.
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