Monday, March 29, 2010

The Coliseum Part 3

On the morning of May 5, 1952 the Coliseum burned down. Here is how the Lorain Journal reported it that same day, with a front page article running under the above photo (click on it for a closer look.)


Early Morning Fire Destroys Coliseum

A twisted, black skeleton within crumbling walls was all that remained today of the Lorain Coliseum after a fire that started about 3 a.m. and was still flickering at 10 a.m.

The big roller rink and dance spot, largest in this area, was declared a total loss by Black River Township Fire Chief Walter Wilker and owner Mrs. Ruth Stevens, Sheffield Lake.

"It was worth $125,000, but would have cost a lot more to replace." Mrs. Stevens said. The building was partially insured, she reported.

Origin of the fire has not been determined, according to Chief Wilker.

Started in Office
"It started in the back end of the office part around the stove," he said.

Forty volunteer firemen with three pumpers, one each from the Amherst, Sheffield Township and Black River departments, fought the blaze.

Lorain firemen did not assist them. The Coliseum is just west of Lorain on Route 6 about 300 yards beyond the city limits.

"We would have gone if they'd asked for help," commented Safety Director James Ryan.

Wilker said that "any more trucks would have been in the way." Only two fire hydrants were within usable range of the building.

First alarm was believed telephoned by Mrs. Lorenza Payne, 2812 West Lake Road, occupant of a half-brick two-family apartment adjacent to the rear of the dance hall. She called about 3:38 a.m. after a Mrs. Walters, resident of the downstairs apartment, rang her doorbell to tell her of the blaze.

Flames 40-Feet High
"Flames were shooting 40 feet into the air when we got there," Wilker related. "Then something went off and an orange ball of fire went along the roof and the whole roof was going in a minute and a half."

Wilker said his men had the fire under control by about 6 a.m. At 10 a.m. hoses were still being played on the smoking ruins. In places flames still licked over charred timbers under what was once the dance floor.

The building resembled a collapsed dirigible after the rounded roof collapsed, exposing tangled steel girders.

Lorain Fire Chief Elmer Stough, who arrived at the blaze early, praised the work of the volunteers in throwing up a water curtain to protected three houses next to the burning building.

Two of the houses, owned by Mateo Mannarilli, 1309 10th Street, were scorched and had windows broken by the intense heat. Mrs. Payne and Mrs. Walters occupied one home, Mr. and Mrs. Steve Andrews the other.

Built in the mid-twenties  by the Lorain Moose Club, the structure was known as the Moose Coliseum. Mrs. Stevens is the first private owner.

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