Church of the Immaculate Conception Destroyed by Fire, 1875
- from the Wheeling Intelligencer, Jan. 16, 1875.
FIRE IN THE EIGHTH WARD.
The Church of the Immaculate Conception Burned.
At an early hour yesterday morning the Church of the Immaculate Conception, on the corner of 30th and Wood streets, Eighth Ward, was destroyed by fire, the walls alone being left of the handsome building.
Shortly before 2 o'clock several men returning from their work at the South Wheeling Glass Works observed a bright light in the rear of the church, and upon investigation discovered that the building was on fire. They immediately gave the alarm, and in about twenty minutes the hose carriage kept in that ward was brought to the vicinity of the church. One attachment was made at the corner of Jacob and 36th streets, and another at the corner of Woods and 36th streets. The two streams of water, however, had but little effect, and the flames leaped to the highest part of the building. As soon as the fire reached the ceiling, it burned more rapidly than ever, and in a few moments the entire space between the ceiling and roof was wrapped in flames the full length of the building.
There is no fire-bell in the Eighth Ward, and no means of sounding an alarm. Therefore it was necessary of dispatch messengers to the northern part of the city for aid. It was consequently nearly two hours before any of the steamers arrived at the scene of the conflagration. The steamers Atlantic and United went down, but were too late to be of any assistance. The church was in ruins before their arrival.
There is considerable speculation in regard to the origin of the fire. The basement was occupied as a school room, and the building was heated by a furnace. The fire originated from the heating apparatus, but from what cause is a mystery. A gentleman who is acquainted with the construction of the building states that stove-pipe ran from the furnace about a foot below the joist to the flue. This pipe, he says, when there was a big fire in the furnace, would get red hot and scorch the joist. His supposition is that in some manner the stove-pipe had become too hot, and set fire to the joist.
The church was built by Bishop Whalen in the fall of 1873, and cost about $27,000. The furniture, etc., cost probably $3,000. Not a single article was saved. There were two valuable organs in the building besides altar ornaments, books, etc. The insurance will not cover one-half the loss. Of Wheeling companies the Citizens' loses $4,000, and Fire and Marine $1,500. the remainder of the insurance, amounting to $4,000 or $5,000 was in Baltimore companies. Father Schleicher had charge of the congregation of the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
The walls remain standing, and are said to be sound. We understand that the church will be rebuilt shortly.