the camden theatre and the fire  parkersburg wv - Mackey's Antiques & Clock Repair


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The Camden Theater Fire " Story " Below Bottom Picture 


The Camden Theater located on the west side of the 700 block of Market Street near Eighth Street Opening October 12, 1902 with Marble Floored Lobby led from Market Street to the 1400 Seat Three Tiered Auditorium.  " Burned down in 1929


with Marble floored Lobby led from Market Street to the 1400 seat three tiered Auditorium. the Camden Presented Touring Stage Production and Major Films


The Camden Theater Three Tiered Auditorium.


The Camden Theater Three Tiered Auditorium.


The day After The Camden Theater Fire December 1 1929



Camden Theater Fire, Picture Courtesy Bob Smith


Camden Theater Fire, Picture Courtesy Bob Smith


Camden Theater Fire, Picture Courtesy Bob Smith


Camden Theater Fire, Picture Courtesy Bob Smith


Camden Theater Fire, Picture Courtesy Bob Smith


Camden Theater Fire, Picture Courtesy Bob Smith


Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company Store Picture Courtesy Bob Smith


Camden Theater Fire, Picture Courtesy Bob Smith


Camden Theater Fire, Picture Courtesy Bob Smith



The Camden Theater 

The Camden Theater, of which the photograph was taken during the performance of "The Girl That Looks Like Me," by Kathryn Osterman, New Year's Matinee, is the finest Theater in any town of this size in the Southwest. It is Modern and has a seating capacity of 1400, and its stage will accommodate the largest road production. This Theater brings to Parkersburg a magnificent line of high class attractions, and the gratifying success which it has achieved shows that the effort of the management to secure only high class attractions is keenly appreciated by the theater-going public. Fully 50,000 people make The Camden their theater home. Three street car lines pass the entrance, and the Inter-Urban line is but a block away, making it easily accessible from all parts of the city, the suburbs and adjacent towns. In fact, so pleasant and comfortable is the seating arrangement, and so fine are the acoustics, that a steady clientele from neighboring towns prefer thts theater to those located in their own place, and visit here regularly. The theater is but two blocks from the B. & O. depot, and near all the leading hotels, making it ideally convenient in every way.  

Under the able management of Mr. L. M Luchs this theater has Splayed to capacity houses this season such plays as Kathryn Osterman in "The Girl That Looms Like Me," "The Lion and the Mouse," "Wonderland," Lew Dockstader's Minstrels, "The Maid and the Mummy," Mildred Holland in "A Paradise of Lies," Richard Carle in "The Mayor of Tokio," Little Johnnie Jones," "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch," "The Clansman," Wm. H. Crane and Ellis Jeffreys in "She Stoops to Conquer," Malcolm Arbuckle in the "County Chairman," Jess Dandy in the "Prince of Pilsen," Marie Cahill in "Marrying Mary," Dustin Farnum in "The Virginian," Al G. Field's Minstrels, Paul Gilmore in "At Yale," Robert Edeson in "Strong Heart," and has in prospect many of the leading plays on the American stage, such as "T'he College Widow," "Squaw Man," "Red Feather," Mme. Modjeska, "Coming Thro' the Rye," and others, including many of the reigning stars.  

Especially noteworthy are conveniences not usually found in theaters of this class, notably the promenade foyer, and check room, the ample space for ingress and exit, making a panic scarcely possible; the usually comfortable seats, the excellence of the orchestra; in fact, the stranger in the town is surprised at the many little finishing touches for his pleasure, convenience and comfort, so seldom found, as to be a constant and pleasant surprtse. The "Star" dressing rooms are magnificently equipped, and have been pronounced by the "profession" to be as handsome '13 are found anywhere in this country. As to the remainder of the dressing rooms, nothing has been left undone that will add to the comfort and convenience behind the footlights.  

The theater is equipped with commodious boxes, handsomely furnished to accommodate theater parties, etc. Great attention has been paid to the construction and equipment to prevent fire. The walls of the building are twenty-eight inches thick. A very heavy wall running from the basement to the roof, divides the stage from the audience, and with the heavy asbestos curtain the stage is entirely separated from the main auditorium.  

Automatic fire shutters are located at every opening between the stage and the auditorium room. A fire hose is located on every floor, which is connected with the city water. In fact, the theater is constructed as near fire-proof as possible, and every precaution has been taken to make the theater absolutely safe.


C. C. (Speck) Cheuvront had just completed setting the stage for an Elks presentation to be held the next day in the old Camden Theatre. As he surveyed his work, he no doubt thought of the many great performers he had seen right there on that stage, including Sir Harry Lauder, Raymond Hitchcock (who had died only a few days before), and many others. It was mid-afternoon. The date was November 30,1929 As "Speck" stepped from the theatre door out into the street, cold air greeted him. It was a frigid day, and it was to get much colder that night But at that moment, "Speck" had no way of knowing the tragedy that also would come with evening. For that night was to see the destruction of the historic old theatre as well as an entire block on Market Street from Seventh Street to Eighth, as well as several business buildings on Seventh between Juliana and Market Street in one of Parkersburg 's most disastrous fires.  

The blaze started beneath the stage and was discovered about 7:30p.m. that Saturday evening, at a time when the mercury stood at 10 degrees above zero. Within three hours, the entire block was a holocaust of flames and showering bricks, and the fire defied the combined efforts of the Parkersburg and Marietta Fire Departments. By midnight brick walls of the business buildings were crashing into Market Street as firemen fought the fire with every piece of equipment and every inch of hose they could unearth. But the inferno still smoldered, even at noon the next day, as thousands crowded the streets to view the ruins of what was once a flourishing section of a growing city. And still firemen continued to pour water on the ruins, still hot in contrast to the ice and bitter cold of the immediate surroundings.  

Parkersburg that night, lost not only a historic landmark the Camden Theatre. Also lost, on Market Street, was the Grinter Drug Store, the Jeannette Shop, two floors of Woolworth's Five and Ten Cent Store, the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company store, the four-story Mullens building, the Mountain State Business College quarters as well as numerous offices.  

Destroyed or badly damaged on the north side of Seventh Street were the Elsie Janis Hat Shop, the Caroline Beauty Parlor, offices of George G. Mead, Optician, offices of Dr. C. M. Boger, A & P Tea Store, the Mabel Hutchinson Millinery Store, the Ira Congrove Shoe Shop, Parkersburg Leather Company, Howard's Barber Shop, and the Dutch Oven, a delicatessen shop. Next day. the flames had died down, but the ruins remained, and as with all tragedies, it also took its toll in human suffering. Bernard Boone, 27, of Marietta , who volunteered to come to the city to fight the fire, contracted a severe cold. His illness resulted in a hemorrhage and he died the next Monday morning. Chief William Heydeorich also became ill due to exposure to the bitter cold. His death some time later was attributed to this illness.  

The fire led to the complete revamping of the department. Municipal authorities were reminded, in a drastic fashion, of the inadequacy of the department A bond issue was passed the following year and huge sums of money were spent later to erect new fire stations, purchase a large amount of motorized equipment and to increase the personnel to standards capable of coping with major fires. Lloyd Layman was appointed fire chief, organized fire prevention methods were introduced, and Parkersburg fire fighters have become nationally known. But the memory will live on of the fire more than 60 years ago of " Parkersburg 's most fire-proof building."




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